BUFFALO, N.Y. — Fall is in full swing now, and with the first few pops of color appearing in Western New York, here's what to expect from trees and their fall colors this year.
The two main factors that influence this annual event are moisture and temperature. The best combination for vibrant fall colors is a wet spring/early summer with drier months heading into fall.
A little stress on leaves toward the end of the season isn't a bad thing as fall colors come from a lack of chlorophyll, which is what gives them that green color. The other colors -- such as reds, yellow and oranges -- come out when leaves start to loose chlorophyll due to the lack of moisture and sunlight.
This spring and summer was very green because it was pretty wet and rainy. This past July was the third wettest on record in Buffalo, with a monthly rainfall total of 7.49 inches.
So that doesn't bode as well for us this year if you're looking at statistics for moisture alone. But one thing we do have going for us is the other half of the equation, and that's temperature.
Western New York hasn't had an unusually cold morning yet, and that first fall freeze is a deal breaker. That's what stops leaves from producing the pigmentation that gives them those fall colors.
Topography plays a role too. The higher latitudes and elevations usually change first. The most vibrant colors expected this weekend in New York will be seen across portions of the Adirondacks and northwestern Catskills, and those regions could reach peak color by October 1.
As for Western New York, we are expecting a potentially rapid change in foliage across the Southern Tier within the next two weeks. But in general, this year's Western New York peak is not expected until mid-late October, similar to that of last year.
And now you know leaf peepers ... time to keep an eye out on your local leaves!