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What Fall Colors Can Tell You About Weather


It’s that time of year again. The time when people hop into their car and drive exceedingly long distances to see the brilliant colors of fall bursting into life. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fall colors. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a hillside awash in golds, oranges and brilliant reds.

But, aside from their stunning aesthetic, the colors of the leaves can tell us an awful lot about the weather preceding the annual autumnal change.

The National Weather Service office in LaCrosse, Wisc. tweeted out a cool info graphic that explains the varying colors in the leaves.

Yellows and Oranges


These leaves contain xanthophylls and carotenoids, which are yellow and orange pigments.

The particular colors are most often caused by a decline in daylight, which is an essential ingredient in photosynthesis. When daylight lessens the photosynthetic “engine” slows and the chlorophyll begins the change colors.

The development of yellow and orange leaves is not dependent on temperature and precipitation.

Reds and Purples


These leaves — unlike their lighter botanical brethren — are dependent on temperature and precipitation. Both temperature and precipitation can have a profound impact on sugar concentrations in the leaves. Higher sugar levels leads to more red and purples.

Reds and purples are more vibrant when temperatures are cool, but still above freezing. Lower precipitation and tons of sunshine also aids in ushering in brighter colors.

Colder temperatures, less sunshine and abnormally high precip will lower sugar levels and lead to duller colors.

Straight to Brown

Droughts and strong storms can be total fall buzzkills. During a drought, the plant is starved of essential nutrients and can drop it’s foliage before fall even starts. While storms with strong winds, heavy rain and snow can speed the leaf drop, shortening the season.

So get out and enjoy the leaves while you can!

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

2 responses to “What Fall Colors Can Tell You About Weather

  1. We have had stunning colors this year, the best I have ever seen here, in N.E. Wisconsin, since I’ve been up here…10 years.

  2. have asked brighthouse net on west coast of fl to add weathernation like direct did i dont expect them to do so cause they are owned by time warner cable which is a big LIBERAL monstrosity of liberalism plus ther only weather is the weather channel which is owned by NBC so i dont expect much action I AM SO TIRED OF POLITICAL AGENDAS AN REALITY TV ON OUR ONLY WEATHER OFFERING. so i will keep it on ruko thank you weathernation for keeping it real

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