Breakdown: Why weather could delay the peak of fall foliage

Updated: Sep. 27, 2019 at 10:51 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Fall is known for the cool temperatures and beautiful displays of leaf color but did you know that weather plays a huge part it what we see and when we see the peak of the colors.

The warmer than average temperatures that we’ve had across the country and Mid-South may cause a delay in when the leaves change colors according to experts.

The temperature outlook shows the above average temperatures continuing into October. While the warmer days are not all bad for fall color, its only ideal if it is followed by cool nights. This September has been rather warm and lacking consecutive cool nights, instead overnights have been rather mild.

Some of the wetter months this summer set us up for healthy trees going into fall and when we finally do get to the peak of fall foliage it should still be a beautiful display according to experts. That’s if we don’t get any tropical systems that could over saturate soils. Heavy rain and strong winds could rob trees of leaves too soon.

On the flip side the recent dry spell could also cause leaves to fall early before changing color.

The good news is that weather is only one part of the equation when it comes to fall color.

The shorter daylight hours are the main trigger for the color change. When the nights get longer and colder, the production of chlorophyll slows down and eventually stops. The lack of chlorophyll, the yellow and orange colors of the leaves become dominant, giving way to beautiful colors of fall.

Temperature, sunlight and soil moisture all play a part in how the leaves will look in the fall too. Cool air, ideally at night and a lot of sunshine during the day will promote the formation of more red and purple colors.

The best weather for bright fall foliage is a good amount of soil moisture along with a dry, cool and sunny autumn with warm days and cool nights.

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