Thunderstorm asthma alert across Western Victoria

A moderate thunderstorm asthma warning has been issued for Ararat.
A moderate thunderstorm asthma warning has been issued for Ararat.

A moderate thunderstorm asthma warning has been issued for Ararat and other areas of western Victoria as a storm forecast for Monday afternoon and evening threatens to interrupt a spell of warm weather.

The warning has been issued for central Melbourne and regions including Gippsland and south-western and north-eastern Victoria on Monday and Tuesday. 

Source: Vic Emergency

Source: Vic Emergency

Grass pollen levels were said to be "Extreme" on Monday.

A moderate risk forecast means that one of the elements necessary for a thunderstorm asthma epidemic may be present.

Those at increased risk should avoid exposure to any storms that may emerge, especially the wind gusts that precede them and have a reliever available.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast says there is a 30 per cent chance of showers in the afternoon for Ararat, with a thunderstorm also possible in the afternoon or evening.

What is thunderstorm asthma?

During grass pollen season people may notice an increase in asthma and hay fever. Grass pollen season also brings the chance of thunderstorm asthma.

Thunderstorm asthma is thought to be triggered by a unique combination of high grass pollen counts and a certain type of thunderstorm. 

For people who have asthma or hay fever this can cause severe asthma symptoms, making it difficult to breath. 

When a large number of people develop asthma symptoms over a short period of time, this is known as epidemic thunderstorm asthma. 

These epidemic thunderstorm asthma events don't happen every year but when they do, they can happen during grass pollen season, which is normally from October through December. 

Who is at risk?

Thunderstorm asthma can affect those with asthma or hay fever - especially people who experience wheezing or coughing with their hay fever.  

That’s why it’s important for people with asthma or hay fever to know about thunderstorm asthma and what they can do to help protect themselves during grass pollen season.

Even if you don't think you have asthma or hay fever, don't ignore symptoms like wheezing or shortness of breath - check with your GP.  

To access the forecasts, Victorians can download the Vic Emergency App or visit: www.emergency.vic.gov.au/prepare