When will the trees be at their peak in Greater Columbus?

While it may still feel like summer in Greater Columbus – as we continue to experience 80 degree weather this week – fall is on the way.

The autumnal equinox arrives at 9:04 p.m. Thursday, kicking off the first day of the season, and with it comes the promise of cooler temperatures and changing colors.

David Parrott, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ fall color forester, said colors in the Columbus area typically peak in late October, but that depends on the weather. preceded.

“Weather, like rainfall and temperature, can impact how fall colors look at the end of the year,” Parrott said.

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Dry, sunny days and cool nights ideal for fall colors

Parrott said the changes in leaf color are due to shorter days and lower temperatures during the fall season. The ideal weather conditions are dry, sunny days and cool, cool nights.

When the trees sense that winter is approaching, they start pulling resources from the leaves to the trees themselves. The chlorophyll –– which gives plants their green color –– breaks down and the yellow to orange pigments on the leaves become visible.

The red color of the leaves comes from another type of chemical called anthocyanin, which trees produce when there are sunny days and cold nights.

When will fall start and what will the weather be like?

Forecasts in the Columbus area call for it to remain mostly dry this week for the onset of fall on Thursday, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s, according to the National Weather Service.

And it looks like temperatures could stay mild until the end of the year, according to the agency’s three-month seasonal forecast. As of September 15, temperatures in Ohio for October, November and December were expected to be 40-50% above average. Precipitation has an equal chance of being above normal or below normal.

Last year shows what can happen when the weather doesn’t quite cooperate.

“Last year we had a lot of areas where it stayed humid and warm later in the year causing the leaves to stay green longer where some areas of the state didn’t have not such a good fall color.” Parrot said.

While this summer has been slightly above average in temperature and rainfall, Parrott hopes the trees will have bright colors for fall.

Drought can also impact fall color

Colorful fall leaves are blurred at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in October.  Slow shutter speed with camera rotation creates color streaks.

While dry conditions help leaves change color in time, fall foliage fans don’t want it to be too dry this time of year, Parrott said.

“So if you have a drought where the leaves are basically drying out, they’re not going to go through that fall color because the leaves are going to dry up and fall off the tree,” he said.

A drought could also stress trees and cause premature leaf change and drop, Parrott said.

Across much of the United States, dry conditions are expected to persist through the fall months, with heat waves also causing leaves to drop before fall even arrives, USA Today reported.

According to the US Drought Monitor, much of the western United States and parts of the east coast could see drought conditions persist through at least November 30. 10. However, the Greater Columbus is showing no signs of drought, according to the Drought Monitor.

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What are the best places in Ohio to see fall colors?

Fall foliage lines the mountain bike trail at Alum Creek State Park in 2016.

If the weather remains ideal for the first part of fall, Parrott said the leaves should start changing in the north first, followed by the rest of the state. Rush hour is estimated October 17-24 for Northern Ohio. In central Ohio, it should be around October 24 and in southern Ohio, October 24-31.

“That’s what the prediction models are saying; however, weather can impact that and most likely push those dates back,” Parrott said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a section on its website dedicated to fall colors where people can check color change progress across the state.

For those who want to see the changing colors, Parrott said some of the best places to visit include Alum Creek State Park in Delaware County, Mohican-Memorial State Forest in Ashland County. , Great Seal State Park in Ross County, and Sycamore State Park in Montgomery. County.

ODNR will host a Fall Colors Tour event on October 22 at Hocking State Forest in Hocking County.

“We hope this year will be a spectacular year,” Parrott said. “Summer has been nice for fall colors, so if this year’s weather keeps the same trends, hopefully it’s going to be a good year.”

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Carol N. Valencia