It’s that time of the year. The nights are getting longer and cooler so you know that that means….the fall show is about to begin. The show of colors of the leaves on the trees. Given the drier year and our stretch of recent warm days with cool nights along with the sun being dimmed by some smoke from the western wildfires, this should be the best show in at least a few years.
So why do the leaves change colors? Well actually, the color has always been there but has been hidden. During the growing season, leaves are factories of food for trees. The way they make their food is through the chlorophyll in leaves. This chemical has a strong green color which gives is the normal color that we see through the spring and summer. When the daylight starts to shrink and the sun’s energy gets weaker, the trees shut off their connection to the leaves and the chlorophyll production shuts down. This allows the chlorophyll to break down into sugars and allow the leaves to change their color. The video below shows the process. Sarah Waddle took a picture a day of the same maple leaf for two weeks. Taken at Wolf Ridge ELC.
We do have a regular story here on wearecentralpa.com that shows the current fall foliage map and breaks down the weather for the leave changing. You can find that story here.
Though the current fall foliage maps are not up to the quality of the past. One of the reasons is the lack of leaf peepers sending reports to the collection sites. Though even without these maps, there is a great tool to help you plan trips to check out the colors when they are near peak. It is the fall foliage prediction map from Smokymountains.com.
We typically have peak color through Central Pennsylvania in the early through middle October. Now if you can’t make it out to see the leaves in person, there are some great websites that highlight webcams in areas that show good color. Here is a listing of a couple.
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