Breaking News
More () »

Drought impact on fall foliage in Central Pa.

The lack of rain over the summer is causing an early start to fall with less vibrancy, but not all is lost!

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — As fall continues, shorter days and cooler temperatures will signal our trees to prep for winter.

"Every fall the green pigment in leaves will break down, exposing different colors in those leaves. Then eventually those leaves will then turn brown and will drop," said Marc Abrams, a professor of forest ecology at Penn State University 

Trees are usually still green around this time, but this year Abrams says changes are coming early.

“What we are seeing now is an early coloration and early senescence or an early dying off of the leaves and that’s what’s happening now as a response to the significant drought over the summer,” Abrams said. 

Dogwoods and honey locusts have been more tolerant to the drought, but other species of trees aren't as lucky. Abrams says that it all depends on the timing.

Significant drought during July and August can hinder foliage vibrancy, but a little drying in early Autumn can lead to richer color.  

"Interestingly, a slight drought during this time of the year (early Autumn) also helps in the breakdown of the chlorophyll and helps unmask the fall colors we want to enjoy,” Abrams said. 

So when are leaves expected to turn this fall? 

Recent showers make up for the lack of rainfall and should help the remaining trees that are getting ready to turn.

“All the rain we have had recently has got us to an average rainfall for the year," said Abrams. "That means if we get a nice cool down over the next two to three weeks, we should see some good fall color by the middle of October.”

For updates on the fall foliage check out DCNR Fall Foliage Reports and stay with your FOX43 Weather Smart Team.

Before You Leave, Check This Out