Conditions promise dazzling fall foliage display, experts say
As autumn colors are just beginning to emerge, this fall is shaping up to be a spectacular one for leaf peepers.
“We've had ideal weather conditions with bright, sunny days and cool, crisp nights,” said Dave Planinsek, a forester with the state Bureau of Forestry. “We've had sufficient amounts of precipitation that has the trees coming into autumn in a very healthy state.”
For several years, experts have said the state needed drier and colder weather in order to produce brilliant foliage.
The show is dependent on quite the balancing act — too much rain keeps chlorophyll production going, while too little can stunt the production of starches needed to produce certain pigments. Warmer temperatures can also diminish colors.
Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, said there are several dry days ahead. He'd also like to see a few light frosts, which he said can help bring out color.
“What you don't want is rain for several hours,” Kines said. “When the leaves start getting close to peak color, they fall off the trees pretty easily. So you don't want a big wind event, either.”
The Laurel Highlands peaks earlier than other areas of the state. Fall colors are expected to be most brilliant there between Oct. 10 and 15, Planinsek said.
In Western Pennsylvania, fall colors will peak between Oct. 15 and 25, he said.
Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state — or anywhere in the world, according to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Only a few regions of the world have deciduous forests that display fall autumn color: eastern North America, the British Isles and parts of northwestern Europe, northeastern China and northern Japan.
Forests in other regions are either tropical or dominated by evergreens.
Why leaves change
Leaves begin to change colors as longer nights arrive and chlorophyll production slows and then stops.
During the growing season chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color, is continually used, broken down and replaced.
As the chlorophyll disappears, other pigments present in the leave are unmasked.
Tree species have different levels of these pigments, which create the characteristic colors of their leaves.
Oaks turn red or brown; maples turn red; orange-red or yellow; and dogwood turns a purplish red.
Big for tourism
Autumn is an important tourism time for the state.
“This year the mid-Atlantic region is predicted to have one of the best fall seasons ever,” said Diane McGraw, the state's tourism director. “We're very excited about that. It puts Pennsylvania on the map.”
The state does not track the economic impact of fall tourism, she said.
McGraw noted that the commonwealth is known for road trips and the tourism offices across the state are hosting fall events.
The state DCNR is posting fall foliage reports online as well as scenic driving tours.
The Armstrong County Tourist Bureau has sold out its Oct. 5 annual fall foliage tour on the Kiski Junction Railroad in the Schenley section of Gilpin.
“I know in other years it wasn't as many people,” said tourist bureau Director Kevin Andrews. “Once (the peak) happens we have a lot of visitors coming in for that. This area is known for the scenery.”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
- Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch
- Winfield Community Park restroom project stalls over high contractor bids
- Captured Armstrong jail escapee Crissman’s criminal history
- Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
- New Kensington-Arnold committee discusses ways to combat bullying
- Parks Township breeder hosts 3rd annual Lab Fest
- HBO to end ‘Banshee’ series, disappointing Vandergrift
- Winfield supervisors OK natural gas-drilling regulations
- Most A-K Valley districts avoid tax increase
- Pastor to leave Alle-Kiski Valley for new flock, new mission