Warm, wet fall may dim fall foliage season in central Pa.

Written by Jim Hook/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Oct 9, 2018 12:09 PM
Autumn leaf.jpg

A lone leave is photographed on a car's windshield as fall colors are seen on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at Chambersburg Memorial Park. (Markell DeLoatch/Chambersburg Public Opinion)

You still have a couple of weeks to plan for the local "leaf peeping" season.

The leaves just started to turn color this week in Pennsylvania's northern tier.

"Peak color in the Chambersburg area this year won't occur for another three to four weeks," said Ryan Reed, environmental education specialist with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "Subtle indicators of the imminent fall foliage season have begun to show up, like crimson flowering dogwood leaves, yellowing on lowland black walnut, and burgundy to purplish hues on Virginia creeper vine."

Pennsylvania and other mid-Atlantic states will struggle to develop to their full potential, with warmer and wetter-than-normal conditions in the forecast, according to Accuweather Meteorologist Max Vido.

There will still be plenty of color.

"I think a lot will depend on what our temps do over the next couple weeks," Michaux State Forest District Forester Roy Brubaker.

The most spectacular colors appear with a series of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp -- but not freezing - nights. Nighttime lows are to dip below 40 degrees just twice before Nov. 3, according to AccuWeather's extended forecast for Chambersburg.

Yellow and gold colors remain fairly constant from year to year because carotenoids are always present in leaves. Temperature and soil moisture in late summer and fall can affect the brilliance of reds as the green chlorophyll dwindles.

"I expect a muted showing this year for maples due to anthracnose fungus, whose impact was augmented by record rainfall," Reed said. "However, I expect another fantastic year for the region's considerable population of hickories, both shagbark and pignut varieties, judging from last year's brilliant showing and this year's similar weather throughout the growing season."

Fall foliage viewers also should be aware of a "second peak" for upland red and mixed oak communities, Reed said. They peak typically one to two weeks after other hardwood species.

Leaves generally color first in higher elevations and northern parts of the state.

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This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion

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