Feeling a little sneezy, Rio Grande Valley? The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America marked the first day of spring with its 2012 “Allergy Capitals” list of the “most challenging” American cities to live in with spring allergies, and McAllen is ranked second, behind Knoxville, Tennessee.

The survey is “based on a scientific analysis of three factors, including pollen scores, number of allergy medications used per patient and number of board certified allergists per patient.”

McAllen was one of only three cities in the top ten with an “average” pollen score, but it was “above average” for both “medicine utilization” and its low number of specialists. Last year, when the city finished ninth, Gail Burkhardt of the Monitor reported that it had only two board-certified allergists. 

San Antonio was the only other Texas city in the top ten of the current survey, ranked ninth. As Nolan Hicks of the San Antonio Express-News noted, that represented a big jump from last year’s rank of number 42. Hicks reported that the mild winter and, of, all things, rain, will make this season worse.

Hicks also pointed to a quote by New York allergist Cliff Bassett on the Weather Channel’s coverage of the survey: “We think the pollen [in the San Antonio area] itself is more powerful due to the warm conditions. It’s like supercharged pollen.”

Austinites will no doubt be surprised to find its city finished a mere twenty-sixth, but since the AAFA only does a fall and spring report, perhaps that leaves out winter cedar fever. Other Texas cities in the top 100 (PDF) were Dallas (24), El Paso (34), and Houston (47).

The Associated Press reported that pollen counts in the southern and western regions of America are already far higher than normal for this time of year.