Recent warm temps across Michigan delaying fall colors


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — October is just around the corner and the colors are slowly starting to pop in portions of Michigan, with the emphasis on slowly.

The best colors arrive in areas that have had sufficient rainfall and cool nights with sunny afternoons.

West Michigan has had plenty of sunshine and the beginning of the month was cool. However, that certainly changed the past couple of weeks, with the hottest, lengthiest heat wave of late September in history, accompanied with exceptionally dry conditions.

>>MAP: Monthly temperature anomaly as of Sept. 27, 2017

The weather changes do not bode well for good colors, since rain-starved trees typically lose their leaves much quicker. In the exceptionally dry southwest lower Michigan area, the situation is a bit worse; some species of trees are stressed enough to skip their normally vibrant colors and change directly to brown.

The hotter, dryer conditions are also delaying the changeover in most areas. This year’s fall color display is a week or two later than average across the state.

The vivid hues typically arrive the earliest in the western Upper Peninsula, but a Sept. 28 photo taken in Lake of the Clouds shows many trees in that area are still green.

Once the colors arrive, they will likely be most vibrant across northern Michigan, since that area received more rain. Unfortunately for Southern Michigan, it appears another dry and warm pattern will arrive after briefly cooler temperatures this weekend.

>>MAP: Temperature outlook for Oct. 6-12

This year’s fall colors will likely peak closer to the later dates in map legend below. This could also be one of those rare years decent fall color will bleed into November.

>>MAP: Peak fall colors for 2017

If you snapped a fantastic photo of West Michigan’s fall foliage, we’d love to share it. Send it to us by emailing

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