It's spring! Finally our long, dark, cold winter has drawn to a close and the season of rebirth and regeneration is upon us. It's a good thing, right? Well maybe not.
Spring in Melbourne can be a trying time what with the unsettled weather, irritating hay fever and rampant magpie swoopings. And the snakes.
Talking of the weather it'll be a nice enough day on Friday, with the Bureau of Meteorology expecting a top of 16 but come the weekend it's going to be windy. Very windy.
Father's Day on Sunday is expected to get the worst of the weather with, the bureau predicts, wind whipping up to around 50km/h.
As for the rest of spring in Victoria, it looks to be warmer than normal, but with average rainfall.
So it's springtime, but before we get too excited, let's remind ourselves why we don't like it all that much.
The erratic weather
Spring is when Melbourne's variable weather becomes even "more Melbourne" than usual.
Winter and summer have a constant tug-of-war, and the battle can lead to spring storms.
Humidity starts flowing down from NSW but we still get cold fronts from the Southern Ocean.
These cold fronts push the warm and cool air together, and force it upwards, causing severe storms accompanied by strong winds.
"It is basically a mechanism to trigger thunderstorms," says weather bureau forecaster Scott Williams.
And as luck would have it the Melbourne Cup period is notoriously unsettled, he says.
Melbourne Cup, 2010. Photo: Jason South
This graph shows the weeks in which severe storms have been recorded in Victoria over the past 25 years.
Week 1 is the first week of January, while week 52 is the last week of December. Spring falls between about weeks 35 and 48.
While the graph shows that the most severe storms have been recorded in the summer months, it is during spring that storm season begins.
Flu season isn't over yet
While August tends to be the worst month for the flu, September often runs a close second in Victoria.
In fact, last year's flu season in Victoria peaked in early spring, as data from the Doherty Institute shows.
The highlighted areas of the graph show confirmed flu cases in September.
Hay fever peaks in late spring
Unfortunately, as flu season ends there is only a small window until hay fever season begins.
Melbourne's first high grass pollen day usually falls in late October, ushering in days of runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing for hay fever sufferers.
The condition is caused by airborne particles triggering an allergic reaction in the body, and pollen released from flowering plants and grasses is a major culprit.
The worst time of year for high pollen days tends to be the last two weeks of November.
Usually, sneezing season tapers off by December as rising temperatures kill off the remaining grasses, but last year there were a string of high pollen days in late December, and the high pollen count extended into January.
And because Melbourne is home to thousands of species of flowering plants among those is surely at least one with pollen engineered to make you sneeze.
Some of the most common allergy-causing plants such as wattles, sheoaks and elms tend to flower in September, while daisies wait until summer.
Melbourne University botany associate professor Ed Newbigin, who has been co-ordinating the count for almost two decades, says our reasonably dry and warm August may see an uneventful hay fever season.
Associate Professor Newbigin said satellite imagery showed Victoria had less greenery than at the same time last year, which means (barring heavy September rains) less pollen will be pumped into the atmosphere this spring.
And the wild weather and pollen can combine to produce "thunderstorm asthma" events, which have happened twice in Melbourne in the past 10 years.
As birds such as magpies and mudlarks start to get territorial, swoopings peak in September and October when over-protective avian life start assuming that anyone within 100 metres of their nests is out to get their young.
The added benefits of wearing a bicycle helmet. Photo: Angela Milne
Department of Environment senior wildlife officer Suriya Vij said only about 5 per cent of magpies swoop passersby, and it was usually because their nests had been disturbed in the past, making them more protective.
"The best thing to do is avoid the area, if that's possible," she said.
"But if you get caught in an area with a swooping bird, cover your head, don't run and get out of the area as soon as possible."
The department's crowdsourced Magpie Map allows you to flag magpie swooping danger zones, and is a good way to pick areas to avoid:
Last year's reported magpie swooping locations Photo: Department of Environment
Because of the warm temperatures, there had already been reports of people getting pecked and clawed by some angry birds, she said.
As an aside, spring is also snake season. But this year snakes have already emerged from hibernation in some parts of Victoria, and are out in force looking for mates.