COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The middle weeks of October traditionally mark the unveiling of the best of fall foliage in Ohio from north to south. However, recent years have featured delayed and shorter seasons due to unseasonal warmth lingering into early November, often culminating in bouts of heavy rain and wind that bring down the leaves before reaching peak color.
This autumn is primed for a more vivid foliage display. An abundance of mostly sunny, mild days and crisp nights, coupled with adequate but not excessive rainfall, has set the stage for a color explosion right on schedule.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources forester Jamie Regula explained, “Fall color is a biochemical process that starts as the days shorten.” She added that a hard freeze can cause an early leaf drop. Fortunately, the widespread frost Saturday morning should not diminish the striking colors because temperatures only briefly dipped below 32 degrees in the colder suburbs and rural countryside.
Regula said color intensity is largely determined by the weather, genetics, and the site of the tree. A more rural setting has better access to soil moisture and fewer air quality alert days.
“We’re looking for bright, sunny days, but not freezing nights, and a moderate amount of moisture,” Regula said. Regarding our trend in recent years for very mild weather in September and October, “If we having warm sunny days, then the photosynthesis process continues,” she said. “The tree is still creating sugar and feeding itself,” which delays the cessation of green chlorophyll production.
“If you are unable to get out of the city, you will always be able to see fall colors just by walking around your neighborhood. The best thing about fall color is that you can do it safely while social distancing,” said Regula.
You can count on certain tree species displaying the same colors from year to year. For example, black walnut, beech, and cottonwood trees will consistently turn yellow hues, while sumac, red oak, and sourwood will present a spectrum of deep red colors. Some species, such as red and sugar maples, persimmon and sweetgum will exhibit a mix of red, yellow, and orange colors.
We’d love to see your pictures as the leaves start to change color. You can share them with us directly through the NBC4 mobile weather app.