Fall foliage update: peak conditions arrive
Wx and the city
How did Mother Nature concoct such a brilliant display of fall foliage this year? By mixing moderate summer rains and warm temperatures, which helped deciduous leaves to grow large; then, adding several crisp, clear fall days combined with longer, cool fall nights to halt chlorophyll (green pigment) production; and finally, leaving the leaves on the trees instead of sweeping them off into tropical storms.
Keep reading for more on this season's fall foliage...
We are lucky enough to live in eastern North America, one of the few areas of the world graced with large swaths of colorful deciduous foliage each fall (parts of eastern Asia have an ideal climate for foliage as well ... check out these pictures from Japan).
Deciduous trees in our area have leaves that grow large, thanks to long, warm summers with moderate amounts of rainfall. Our latitude helps as well; days get shorter while nights get longer and cooler in the fall. (Read more about why leaves change color and view a slideshow about the new science of fall colors.)
Drought, tropical storms and other severe climate and weather events can throw off the delicate balance of conditions needed for a full display of color; luckily, our local deciduous trees didn't have to deal with much severity this year.
The latest Virginia foliage update from fallcolorva.blogspot.com (today) is the following:
- Fall colors are in full view across most of the state.
- New River Valley: more than 75% of the trees have changed and have peak color
- Allegheny Mountains: just past peak colors
- Shenandoah Valley: between 65-75% of the trees have color
- Piedmont: approximately 50% color, expected to peak in early November
- Coastal Plain: expected to peak in mid-November.
The Virginia Department of Forestry also reminds us that fall fire season is in effect from October 15 to November 30, so remember to be careful with outdoor fire when visiting natural areas (fire safety tips).
You can also call the Virginia Fall Foliage Hotline at 1.800.424.LOVE to hear this weekly report (what promotion materials for Virginia don't have to do with love?).
The latest update for Maryland (October 24) was the following:
- By and large, there were still many green leaves across the state
- Close to peak in Frederick County and most of western-central area
- Gunpowder State Park in Harford and Baltimore Counties had nice viewing conditions
- Cecil County: Elk Neck State Park had about 50 percent of expected color, while Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area was approaching full color
- Tidewater areas of southern Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore were anywhere from five to 40 percent turned (still a couple of weeks from peak color)
- Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary's County was starting to turn (including bald cypress trees, which are conifers with needles that have started to turn yellow and drop)
- Cedarville State Forest in Charles and Prince George's Counties, Pokomoke River State Park in Worcester County and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County were delightful.
You can hear this weekly report by calling 1-800-LEAVES1.
While a chance of rain and Halloween festivities might keep leaf-peepers at bay on Saturday, Sunday will likely be a great day to get outside and view the colors in the central and eastern parts of our region.
Check out these resources and travel tips for D.C. area fall foliage from washingtonpost.com:
| October 28, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories: Local Climate, Nature, Posegate, Wx and the City
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