Weather To Have Impact On Leaf Peeping Season

GARDINER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Fall officially begins Thursday and many people might be thinking about taking a trip to see the beautiful leaves change color.

However, as CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reports, weather might play a factor in leaf peeping this season.

The view from Mohonk Preserve will soon be ablaze as leaves turn color and light up in shades of yellow, red and orange.

“We have a chestnut oak here, but that’s pretty typical,” said Megan Napoli, a research ecologist at the preserve. “Reddish-brown in a couple of weeks.”

Napoli said as daylight declines, trees slow and eventually stop production of chlorophyll, which makes them green.

“The yellow and orange pigments start to become visible,” explained Napoli.

The black birch have already started showing their true colors, but will this season deliver a spectacular display?

Length of day is the biggest factor affecting the change and weather plays a role, too.

For starters, it’s been really warm this September and that will likely delay the start of the season.

As for rainfall, most of us need more, so do some trees.

“Dry conditions do stress the trees,” said Gretchen Reed, director of marketing and communications at the preserve.

Reed said certain species will actually turn sooner.

“Especially the trees that tend to go red,” said Reed.

Like one red maple in the preserve, whose leaves look a combo of red and nearly dead.

Evidence of dry conditions can be seen in color along the Schwan-gunk ridge.

Trees whose leaves favor turning a reddish-brown like the red oak and orange like the sugar maple will likely be delayed.

Across all varieties, it’s likely we’ll be dazzled by vibrant colors, just don’t expect the thrill to last long. Leaves will be shed more swiftly because of the added stress of little rain.

They’ve been keeping weather records for 120 years at the preserve and noted the annual average temperature increased by more than three degrees, and it has had an impact on peak-viewing season.

“We used to get peak color around Columbus Day,” said Reed.

Now it’s more likely to be the middle of October, and across much of New Jersey, New York City and Long Island, peak peeping is closer to Nov. 1.

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