COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This may be the best weekend to view peak fall colors in Ohio, under bright, sunny skies, with light winds and crisp fall weather.
We should take into account that this is an unusual situation, considering we are a week into November. The late and patchy color change is due to the warmest October in 74 years that delayed the display, which is driven by shorter daylight, longer, cooler night, and moisture.
October 2021 averaged 62.2 degrees in Columbus, seven degrees above normal, and tied with 1900 for the third warmest October, after 1947 (64 degrees) and 1879 (62.4 degrees). In the past 15 years, there has been a tendency for warmth to linger longer in fall, shifting the average peak fall color in central Ohio from the third week of October to Halloween, or even early November.
The sudden turn to chilly weather in November, with a string of freezing mornings and highs in the 40s and 50s (nearly 7 degrees below normal), has accelerated the color change. Ideal conditions for enhancing the vivid display are bright, sunny days and cold nights, though not featuring a heavy frost, which causes leaves to turn brown and fall more quickly.
The colors this season have been less than spectacular because the hidden pigments beneath the green canopy of some trees just showing recently were out of sync with the early-turning maples; many having already dropped their leaves in October.
There still will be a fair amount of fall beauty in the canopies to enjoy this week before the seasonal window closes on the vivid fall foliage. Rain and gusty winds toward the end of the week will also bring down most of the remaining leaves.