Fall Color Is About To Come Alive

We have had great weather conditions through the summer that should have led to a colorful fall season. Then October arrived and so far the weather has put the brakes on the colorful show. The last two weeks have been dominated by clouds, rain, and cold. In order for the leaves to change to vibrant colors the weather needs to corporate with cool, dry nights and warm afternoons being the best recipe. Of course it is always better late than never and after a wet and cloudy pattern, the cool nights and warm afternoons are back through out most of the week. As a result, expect to see the trees explode with color over the next couple of weeks. Here is the latest fall foliage update.

fallfoliageupdate

fallfoliagetimes

Here is the latest fall foliage update from Arkansas.com

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Fall Foliage Color UpdatesFall Images

Central Arkansas/Ouachita Mountains – Colors are changing quickly. Some color on maples, gum trees, and dogwoods is visible. Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock is at about 40% in color with peak days still a couple of weeks off. Trees that are turning include maples, hickories, black gum, sweet gum, and bald cypress. The hard woods, including oaks, have just begun to turn a slight yellow-brown, but more color is projected in the following weeks. Small lower lying color includes sumac, poison ivy, and sassafras trees. Other colors in the area include mushrooms ranging from white to wild purples and berry-bearing bushes such as the beauty berry, possum-haw, and flowering dogwood have colorful berries present at this time.

The Lake Ouachita State Park area near Hot Springs is still very green. The sumac is showing signs of red colors, dogwoods are turning red and the black gums are showing an indication of yellow. Projected Peak of Color: Last week of October or the first week of November

Timberlands – Leaves are beginning to turn colors at Moro Bay State Park in Jersey. The green colors have turned lighter with quite a bit of yellow and a little brown just starting. The higher water level seems to be causing the trees that have a lot of deep water around them to turn a little quicker. Predicted peak of color: Early to Mid November

Northwest/North Central – In the Prairie Grove area maples have turned red and there are hints here and there of yellow, but it’s still mainly green. Fall color is developing in this region, but more time is needed for peak conditions. At Devil’s Den and Lake Fort Smith State Parks the maple and gum trees are changing quickly along with the hickories starting to show good color, but there is still a lot of green in the area. Motorists attending the many arts & crafts fairs in the Ozarks this weekend will see some color in early-changing understory foliage. Several more days are required for it to be widespread and near peak. In Bull Shoals, Mountain Home and Mountain View, maples and black gum are developing to bright red, yellow and orange. On Highway 65, color becomes more noticeable north of Marshall. Scenic Highway 7 also has color developing, especially from the Buffalo River north. Much of the forest is still green around the Buffalo River, but yellow, gold, red and orange are starting to dot the landscape. Expected peak of color: Late October. Predicted peak of color: Late October

For the northern Ozarks, the black gum, dogwoods and sumac and virginia creeper are all red. What is unusual for this early in the fall season is that the oaks are starting to turn, when they are typically the last to turn. There is some yellow on the hillsides from oaks. It is possible that some trees in this region may still be stressed from the ice storm, making for an unusual fall. Predicted peak of color: Late October

Summary: There has been a lot of rain and cloud cover over the entire state this past week that has slowed development. The weekend forecast shows some promise with the return of some sunshine. Color is noticeable in the Ozark National Forest this week, but not widespread. Near-peak conditions are unlikely to occur in northwest and north central Arkansas until the last of October. Cool nights with lows below 40 degrees are ideal for rapid color change. The 7-day weather forecast generally calls for lows in the high 40’s and low 50’s, which means it will take more days to fully develop.

Fall Fact: The best weather pattern for fall color change is warm sunny days followed by cool nights. When it’s sunny and warm, leaves continue to manufacture nutrients. But during cool nights these sugars remain in the leaves instead of being passed through the stem and into the tree, resulting in much of the color we see.

Next report: October 22, 2009

Ross Ellet

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