How 2018’s Fall Foliage Season May Shake Out

It’s many people’s favorite time of the year: football season, crisp, cool nights, pumpkin patches, hay rides and of course fall foliage. Autumn can be spectacular around here, but the quality of the foliage season can vary from year to year.

WHAT MAKES FOR A GREAT FOLIAGE SEASON?

1) A WET EARLY GROWING SEASON

If dry conditions prevail in the spring and early summer, there is an increased risk of leaves dropping before they reach peak color in the fall. This year, we DID have a pretty wet period from April-June.

2) SUNNY DAYS AND CLEAR NIGHTS LATE IN SUMMER AND EARLY IN AUTUMN

Here’s where we may be in some trouble this year. September has been quite cloudy and wet across the area. In fact, it’s been the wettest September on record. 

3) CALM, SUNNY DAYS IN OCTOBER

What we don’t want in October is a bunch of rainy, windy days, especially later on the month. Those conditions will help pull down leaves and lead to a muted foliage season.  In the first half of the month, cool and dry days and nights would be ideal. Welp:

Early October is looking pretty warm overall.

SCIENCE OF FALL FOLIAGE

Why do leaves change color? It’s all about chlorophyll. That’s what gives leaves their green color. But leaves have other pigments as well and as daylight decreases in the fall, chlorophyll quickly depletes. This allows those other pigments such as yellow, red, orange, etc to show up.

CURRENT FOLIAGE STATUS

We are not seeing much color yet locally. Pockets here and there but overall it seems like we already running behind schedule a bit.

Colors are most noticeable in areas well north of us, mainly in the mountains.

Peak colors typically occur in mid-to-late October around here. Sometimes we see a peak around October 16-23, sometimes more like October 22-31. I suspect we’ll see the latter this year.

 

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