All signs point to vibrant fall foliage season
Plentiful summer rain has led to healthy trees
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - According to a tree expert at Virginia Tech, this may end up being the best year for fall colors that we’ve seen in quite some time, thanks to plenty of summer and early fall rain.
“We have plenty of moisture in the soil and the trees should be in great shape for a colorful display in the beautiful state of Virginia,” says John Seiler, a forestry professor who specializes in environmental stress effects on woody plant physiology.
As the days shorten during the late-summer season, food production slows and the chlorophyll breaks down, allowing the colors beneath the green to show through.
WHY SUCH A GREAT SEASON?
Seiler looks at weather patterns and the moisture in soil to predict peak autumn color. He says rain levels can also impact the variety of color, but clear days in October are vital for a vivid display.
“Rainy weather patterns are keeping trees in Virginia healthy, which should prolong the fall color season and make leaf color more vivid,” says Seiler. “We do, however, need some clear and sunny days in October for the red leaf colors to develop well.”
While most hometowns are running near or above normal when it comes to rainfall this summer, it didn’t start out that way. June was extremely dry and warm. That heat continued into July and August but we added much more beneficial rainfall to the mix which likely offset the early-season scorching.
Below are rainfall totals we’ve gathered for the Roanoke Valley. Amounts vary based on location and we’ll still need to add any rainfall for the rest of September.
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WHEN TO EXPECT THE COLORS?
So, when should leaf watchers plan to enjoy the foliage?
Seiler predicts trees in Virginia may not reach their peak foliage until the fourth week of October.
“The weekends of October 22 and 29 are likely the best bet for most areas. It looks like tick-or-treaters of the New River Valley will be set for a vivid display.”
The color changes typically unfold from west to east and start in the higher elevations before spreading down into the valleys.
“Growing up here, I’ve never witnessed a fall season without gorgeous color changes,” says chief meteorologist Brent Watts.
“Sometimes the extreme weather does lead to muted color tones, but you can typically take a road trip and still find areas where the colors are vibrant.”
WDBJ7 Weather will introduce our weekly Fall Foliage Report starting in late-September.
We want to see how the leaves are looking in YOUR HOMETOWN. Snap a photo and upload it here to share with our meteorologists.
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