Fall Leaves and the Dangers with Fall Fire Season

Fall means foliage, but it also means Virginia's fall fire season.

Did you know here in Virginia, we are currently in fall wildfire season?

The Shenandoah Valley is surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, but Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz shows us how the conditions that bring out those fall colors can be dangerous.

Fall can be one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Shenandoah Valley, so what's the best kind of weather to bring out those bright vivid colors? Well the leaves like dry sunny afternoons with cool crisp nights. But the dry weather can also come with a consequence as we head into the end of October and into November because it's also the beginning of Virginia's fall wildfire season."

Joe Leynan is with the Virginia Department of Forestry and he says you may be surprised at how fast conditions can dry out.

Leynan says, More than anything, what happens is more people return to the forest. There are more hunters obviously, people hiking, people camping. It's a beautiful time of the year to be in the forest and whenever you have increased human activity you have an increase chance of fire."

How fast does the forest really dry out?

Leynan says "The forest can dry out really quickly this time of year, as we get less and less leaf cover above the sun obviously beats down on the forest floor and the wind can easily move through the forest, drying out the forest conditions rather rapidly. And all it takes to start a fire is to have that top surface of leaves dry out."

Typical foliage peak for Virginia is the end of October through November 10th. Leynan says, "I think we are on schedule for this year, it was a little bit drier earlier in the year as you know and sometimes dry weather really brings the colors out, sometimes too wet weather suppresses the colors so it's a huge balancing act, also temperature has a lot to do with it, but i think it's going to be a gorgeous year and you know we're starting to get some great colors already."

Virginia's fall wildfire season doesn't end until November 30th.

Follow Meteorologist Aubrey Urbanowicz WHSV on Facebook and Twitter.

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