Leaves Changing Color Early

By: Meteorologist Mark Henderson
By: Meteorologist Mark Henderson

We've yet to reach the Labor Day Weekend. Kids are just now back in school, but already we're witnessing something rather peculiar; an array of red, yellow and orange appearing on many area trees.

Steven Courtney, Executive Director at Klehm Arboretum, says this is a phenomenon we see once out of every six years or so.

The changing of color in leaves results from the death of chlorophyll in the leaf. While there's a wide array of meteorological factors that can lead to the death of chlorophyll, cool temperatures, especially at night, are often most influential, and on the heels of the third coldest August and sixth coldest summer ever recorded in Rockford, there's little surprise that the colors are indeed changing.

Interestingly enough, the weather is not the only player in determining color change. We too can be as much, if not more of a contributor, simply by driving along area roadways, since the emissions and pollutants our cars give off cause a stress on leaves nearby.

Peak fall colors don't usually appear here until mid to late October, and despite the early hints of autumn, Courtney predicts our peak season won't be vastly affected.

His prediction is that the peak season may arrive one to two weeks early, barring any major September heat wave. Either way, this season's color display could be one of the more illustrious here in the Rockford area.


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