The fall foliage forecast calls for vibrant colors
HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WENY)-- The vibrant fall colors along our rolling hills and valleys bring many tourists into our region. This makes the fall season an economically important one across the Twin Tiers. We are in that time of the year when the leaves are expected to start changing.
''If the summer conditions are conducive to good growth, meaning sunny days and adequate rainfall, the color tends to be more vibrant in the fall. if the trees are stressed in the summer, and a lot of cases that does not happen, the leaves are less vibrant in the fall. If they are too stressed, the leaves will wither and fall in the summer,'' said Dr. Art De Gaetano, a professor in the Earth Science Department at Cornell University.
We started the summer with concerning drought conditions. If this had persisted, it would have had a negative impact on the fall foliage. Thankfully, the weather pattern changed as we got deeper into the summer with beneficial rains. The month of August received above-average rainfall and the Elmira Airport recorded more than 2 inches above the long-term average.
''A fall that is warmer than normal causes a delay in the foliage and the peak in the foliage. Cooler temperatures in fall are very important to get that change in color,'' said Dr. De Gaetano.
Chlorophyll, a pigment in plants, causes the green color in leaves and powers photosynthesis. During the Fall these green pigments break down during the longer and cooler nights, causing leaves to change to a more radiant color.
Generating strong reds, purples, yellows, and oranges is never a guarantee. Foliage color only develops to its full potential when days are cool, and nights are chilly, but not freezing
The Climate Prediction Center is predicting above-average temperatures and near-normal rainfall through November, making the colorful fall season a distinct possibility.