First Alert Weather In-Depth: What’s behind the fall color change?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In talking with folks around Western New York, we know from many that this is their favorite time of the year.

And we see these changes all around us. As we go through the fall season what is going on is that we usually get the cooler temperatures. But take a look at the month of October.

With the exception of just one day for the first of the month, we have had above-average temperatures each and every day. Now, we still have a ways to go before we get to the end of the month, but it’s an interesting comparison when you take a look at the warmest Octobers that we have ever had in Rochester.

You can see this list runs from an average temperature from about 57 to maybe 59 or 60 degrees. So far this October we have had an average temperature of about 64.5 degrees. Now again, we still got a long way to go through the month, but it’s interesting that the average temperature is now at about 9° above normal. That is pretty significant! We will see how this ends up.

The latest fall foliage report from New York State shows the Adirondacks, the Catskills and some of the Southern Tier are at peak conditions. And at this point, Rochester, Monroe County and the Finger Lakes are anywhere from about 25% to 50% color change. So it’s really not the temperature. And maybe there are other things that are going on.

So why do the leaves begin to change color? We know that we are getting shorter days. That means less sunlight. We have been losing about three minutes per day in terms of daylight. So that is the chlorophyll beginning the breakdown and this is the first signal for trees to start changing the color. There are other ingredients as well, such as temperature, rainfall, and maybe an early frost.

It is going be interesting to see how this works out and I am hoping we get some spectacular color as we go through the next week or two.