Don't "Leaf" The Valley, Stay and Enjoy The Fall Colors! 10/11/11

Update to the colors!! (10/18/11) Fall Foliage in the Valley, and what kind of weather makes the colors so bright?

Fall Colors In The Valley

It almost seems as if the leaves changed and got brighter overnight!

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry our peak colors are expected October 25th - Nov 10th.

Although by the looks of things, it's possible we could see the best colors slightly before those dates.
We are already in the "turning" category as of this week. Not surprising, many of the smaller trees have started to turn but on the mountains it's still pretty green.

As of October 18th, here is our current outlook:


We're already in the peak viewing for the Highlands, as well as Augusta county. We should be in peak by the end of the week for the rest of the Valley. Thankfully we will see some sunshine by the end of the week but if you have plans to look at the fall colors, bring that jacket! It's going to be a cooler weekend.

So what kind of weather inhibits colors?

If we see drier than normal conditions in the transition from summer into fall, then we could see leaves changing a bit earlier than expected, but they could also fall quicker and not be displayed to their fullest beauty.

Cooler than normal temperatures will also destroy some of the leaf's pigments, and ruin the colors.

What do we need for the colors to not just continue but to brighten?

Well the weather this weekend looks like the perfect recipe. We need some sunny, dry, mild days, and at come cooler nights but with no frost. Those are the best for bringing out these beautiful bright colors.
Lately we've seen exactly that, highs in the 60s and 70s, and lows above freezing to the mid 50s.

So why does the sunshine help bring the colors out so much? Well sugars that are in the leaves are converted to pigments, and those pigments bring out the bright reds, oranges, and yellows. Those colors over power the green chlorophyll in the leaves, since the chlorophyll starts to fade with the days sunlight starts to get shorter.

This is a picture I took this past weekend in Stephens City at an Apple Orchard:

Some colors in our area:

Tree Colors
Ash Yellow, Marroon
Beech Yellow to Orange
Hickory Golden Orang/Yellow
Oak Vibrant Red
Dogwood Garnet to Purple
Red Maple Bright Scarlet
Poplar Golden Yellow


So far this weekend looks much cooler, but with lots of sunshine. Still some nice weather to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall colors mother nature has brought out.

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