Anchor Rick Douglas and myself were talking yesterday about how weird it is that one our trees in the station parking lot is already without leaves, and three are brilliant red. The rest of the trees are still green. So that made me wonder how the weather impacts fall foliage. Honestly, I do not know much about gardening or plants, so I had to do some research to try to pull together some information. After reading some information online, I’m convinced that there are so many variable that can prevent the changing color of leaves that it’s sometimes a miracle it happens at all.
So here’s the basics. Plants need water to survived, how much depends on the plant. They also need sunshine to make chlorophyl, which is like plant food and responsible for the green color. However, you need specific weather conditions for trees to accomplish the summer green and the autumnal colors. If there is a drought, heavy rain and wind, or early frost can mean the end of the leaves before they have a chance to turn colors. Exact tolerance of each tree to those conditions are widely unknown as it depends on many variables per tree. Through reading information online, however, it does look like the general type of weather to brings the best Fall Foliage is warm, sunny days with cool but not frozen nights.
So what does that mean for our foliage season in Oregon? Well, we’re just starting to enter the the “warm” afternoons and cool evening pattern. The one thing we could see impact the fall foliage would be the pockets of windy, rainy weather and the fact that many of our afternoons are gray all day long. While, I’m not a biologist, I would assume that could hold up the color change or possible cause some of the weaker, less weather tolerant trees to drop leaves without them changing. One of the best areas right now to see colorful leaves would be in the higher elevations. They’ve seen those cooler nights already, and we’ve had some good pockets of afternoon sunshine lately. In fact, a local foliage blog that I found says that the higher elevations in Oregon are entering the peak color stage. For those of us lower in elevation, the trees are starting to turn color, but a lot of the area is still green. If we can keep up that preferred foliage pattern, we could be at the beginning of a gorgeous Fall!
If you want to check out the blog that is combines the efforts of forest officials, biologist, and Travel Lane County, click here.
–Meteorologist, Megan Taylor