Fall 2019 color forecast: continuing the late trend
Over the last couple of years, we've noticed that the summer temperatures have been carrying deeper and deeper into the fall season. That may be a good thing for all of you summer lovers out there, but that typically means bad news for bright, vibrant fall colors. Warmer-than-normal temperatures slows down the process that changes the leaf color from green to the red, oranges, and yellows that look so nice on a sunny, fall day. It also affects when we see peak color in Michiana, and it's been happening later than normal. Much of the same can be expected this year with the summer-like warmth hanging around through early October. Expect to see peak color around Halloween into early November.
With cooler days, the chlorophyll in the leaves, which gives off the green color, starts to break down. That breakdown allows other chemicals in the leaves to take over slowly to give off the other fall colors: The reds, yellows, and oranges. But for the brightest and most vibrant colors, we need specific summer and fall conditions.
First of all, we need really need a summer or growing season with some amount of moisture. And this growing season has had two different stories. We did start the season on a good note, in fact, from May 1st to July 1st, we were 4.43" above normal. But after July 1st, it's been pretty bone dry as we are now about three inches below normal since that date. And it's the drought that's already in place that could may the leaves fall early before the leaves get to their peak color by the end of October.
So, we're already missing out on some mid to late summer moisture, but we do have warm fall days in the forecast that are dry and sunny, along with cool nights so far. The jury's still out on the rest of the fall season. Regardless, thanks to the ongoing drought through late summer and early fall, we can expect another fall with less color than normal.