Impact of drought on fall foliage

Weather News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every autumn in western Massachusetts, locals and visitors get to experience the colors of reds, oranges and yellows that is the fall foliage season.

The primary driver behind the change in the color is the shorter daylight hours, but weather plays a part too.

The best conditions for vibrant fall foliage lasting a long time include ample rain in the spring and summer, but dry weather for fall itself along with warm, sunny days but cool nights. Dry weather in the fall increases the vibrancy of color. We were dry in the late spring and summer, so that could have an effect this year.

Severe drought areas could see the color turn earlier and not last as long, while the moderate drought areas could see the change later than normal. So there will be variable start times in western Massachusetts.

Climate Central says the reason for this difference isn’t understood well, but it may be related to the way a tree reacts when they are under mild water stress versus significant water stress. Drought affects each species of tree differently. 

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