GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Day length is getting shorter and sleeves are getting a little longer!
Fall is a magical time of year in the state of Michigan and brilliant fall color conditions are right around the corner for our area. While fall color occurs roughly the same time every season, this year experts are expecting colors to pop a little later in the year just like they have the last several.
WHY DO LEAVES CHANGE COLOR?
The primary reason leaves change color every year is due to shorter daylight days. With less incoming solar radiation, trees and shrubs shut down chlorophyll production in their leaves to conserve energy for winter. Chlorophyll gives grass and leaves its green color. As production is shut down, gorgeous hues of red, gold, orange and brown are revealed.
While the primary driver in color change is due to less daylight, each fall season is different due to weather conditions. The amount of cool air received in a given season and the amount of moisture can speed up or delay a fall color show. It can also change how vibrant the leaves are or how quickly they drop.
Ideal weather for a dazzling fall color show is one that features near-normal precipitation with warm fall days and cold fall nights with temperatures just above freezing.
Some trees and plants begin changing far too early due to stress caused by things like drought, bugs or disease.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT LEAVES TO HIT PEAK COLOR THIS YEAR IN MICHIGAN?
While it is impossible to know exactly when fall colors will peak or how vibrant they will be, there are ways to make a preliminary forecast. This year experts anticipate fall colors to pop a week or two later than they used to about a decade ago for our area.
The preliminary forecast has the Upper Peninsula hitting peak in early October. Higher elevations in the Upper Peninsula will turn a little sooner than the lower elevation areas.
Northern Lower Michigan is expected to peak in mid to late October. Higher elevations will transition sooner with places closer to Lake Michigan or Lake Huron turning later in that time frame.
Most of the Lower Peninsula south of Highway 10 will likely transition in late October through early November.
Most of Michigan is coming out of summer with little to no drought, which helps lower leaf drop, increasing our chances of having a longer fall color show. Leaf drop may happen faster in the thumb region as it is currently much drier than the rest of the Lower Peninsula.
Much of September is expected to lean a little warmer than average. This is one of the reasons color may be slower to change this year.
Remember, diseased or stressed trees will turn early, so be on the lookout for local strips of color change, which race ahead the rest of the surrounding areas.
We will frequently update viewers on color progress across our entire state as autumn unfolds this coming year! Be sure to check back for updates each week. Send us your fall color pictures be emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to help us detect how color is changing across our area.