Fall started rainy and hot. Will it affect when leaves change colors?

By Bernheim

Source: The Courier-Journal
Date: October 12, 2018
Brittney Jackson

If it felt like the rain clouds of the first few days of fall would never end, fear not. Soon, we’ll be bursting in yellows, oranges, and reds.

With all the rain in September and the unusually warm start to October, the weather has not felt very autumn-like.

Temperatures have started to cool down now, but will all that rain and heat delay the leaves from changing to beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow?

Fortunately, no.

“The best weather for brilliant fall color is dry, cool, sunny, autumn warm days and cool nights,” said Casey Hammett, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest horticulturist. In other words, exactly what we’ve got right now.

As days get shorter, nights get longer and temperatures drop, the chlorophyll in leaves, which is what makes them green, decreases and allows the vibrant colors to come through.

But we’re not out of the woods yet.

What could still complicate things for leaf peepers is too much wind or rain. Those conditions could knock leaves off of the trees before they have a chance to change colors, Hammett said.

Louisville and Southern Indiana’s peak color time will be around Oct. 29, according to smokymountains.com. Even with October’s warm start, the leaves are on track to be just as vibrant as usual this year.

“I think this year’s going to be fabulous fall color if we don’t get any frost,” Hammett said.

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