It is that time of the year when we start noticing the changes in the trees and the beautiful colors starting. Well, thanks to a record hot start to the first week of October, and a really warm September, a late peak season is ahead.
When should we normally start to see the peak leaf colors here in Ohio?
In a normal weather year (which we have not had in some time), we would start to see colors changing in the northern third of the state late in September. The peak would not occur until the first third of the month of October.
The mid part of the state would follow by the 2nd third of October (the middle part of the month). The southern third of the state usually hits peak by the end of the month.
This isn’t perfect science though, as some parks tend to peak later in the year, given by elevation and proximity to the warmer late season waters of Lake Erie too!
What is good for color changes?
Ideally, you want things wet and non-stressful for the trees during the growing season, and all summer long. Droughts and prolonged periods of hot and dry weather are bad.
Bad weather conditions early could cause a shorter, or even weaker color change for the Fall. Also, wet weather is fine in early September, but you do want to get a good amount of sunshine by late September and October. This will promote more of the chemical in the leaves that turns them green to get broken down.
We also want warm days and cool nights to help promote this process, and help to push forward with helping the yellows, reds, and oranges to show up. Another key is not to have heavy rains in Autumn or big wind storms, that will weigh down on the weakened fall leaves and cause them to fall quickly.
When should we see peak colors this year?
Since we are basically finishing the 2nd week of the month already, early October is done. Next week already is the middle week of the month, and I do not anticipate any major color changes to change to peak in the next week.
Most of the northern part of the state will see peak colors heading into the early portion of the 4th-5th weeks of October this month.
The central part of the state is expected to also have a later than normal peak season. Should be near peak about a week before Halloween and peaking the days ahead of Trick or Treat night.
The southern part of the state should be near peak by Halloween, with the first week of November pushing the peak colors in the south.
While this is not exact for each park (cool/dry/sunny) could slightly alter some of these locations, this is roughly a good indicator. What is great is ODNR update the state parks each week with the colors being observed at each park.
With a good amount of sunshine most of the next 7 days, and much cooler, including several cooler than normal nights, we should start to see the changes accelerating a bit more over the next week.
Below are the current conditions reported by ODNR at our state parks:
If you have questions about Autumn leaf color changes, what to expect, or any other weather questions, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org