Weather impacts fall foliage color and duration

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s that time of year! Mother Nature puts on a spectacular color show during the fall season as trees halt chlorophyll production and the oranges, yellows, reds, and purples that have been in the trees all along begin to appear.

Many leaves began changing early this season due to stress. A number of different weather factors can cause stress on trees, ultimately impacting how fast the colors change, how vibrant the colors will be, and how long they’ll last before the fall off of the tree. One of the biggest factors is temperature. We’ve had a fair share of temperature swings from the end of September into early October. Temperatures hovered a few degrees either side of 90° for at least six days near the end of September, then temperatures fell all the way down into the upper 30s for the first weekend of October. Temperature swings are common in the fall months, but not of more than 50°. Sunlight can also impact fall foliage. Sunshine has been abundant for most of September and the beginning of October. While that is good for foliage, it is also an indication that we’ve been drier than average. In fact, according to the latest drought monitor, our northernmost counties and our Ohio counties are running abnormally dry for this time of year. In an ideal situation, you want to see average temperatures, some rain – but not too much, and little to no wind. Taking into account all of those factors, it makes sense that many area trees began to change earlier than normal this fall. But, with weather more typical of fall this week, they’ve slowed or stopped.

With all of the aforementioned in mind, we’re right on track to see peak foliage across much of our area from October 11-18. Keep in mind that mid-October is when we typically see peak foliage, so this is just about on track. As far as how vibrant the colors will be and how long they’ll last, based on the stress the trees have gone through, the colors may not be as vibrant this year and the leaves may drop rather quickly.

If you’re planning to head out to see the fall colors, here are a few recommendations:

Don’t forget to email us some snapshots at photos@wane.com or use the Report!t feature on the WANE WX app.