Previewing This Year's Fall Foliage Season

While many wish summer would continue indefinitely, in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania we live in a 4 season climate. There are many things about autumn that are great and of course the annual changing of the leaves is high on the list. We are lucky to have so many great spots (such as Mill Creek Park) to take in the show.

In 2018, a very warm and wet September and a toasty start to October kind of doomed the foliage season. We were not alone in seeing “forever summer”; here’s last September temperature anomalies:

September 2018 Temperatures

September 2018 Temperatures

Many leaves simply turned brown and fell. The “peak” wasn’t much of one and it was very late…close to Halloween.

Our “typical” peak is somewhere between October 15-25.

Foliage Map.png


September is off to a very warm start again this year. And once again, we are not alone:


But, at least in parts of the area, it has not been as wet this September. Some places, mainly south of 224 are quite dry. It’s been wetter in much of Trumbull and Mercer counties during the second half of summer.

September 1-17 Rain

September 1-17 Rain

So it hasn’t been as wet as last September and that is a positive for the potential of a vivid show this year. BUT, much like last year the very warm pattern is likely to continue into late September and early October. Some of the long-range modeling is very toasty looking through the first half of October.

Long-range European model

Long-range European model

So, while the generally drier weather should help, I’m concerned about the late-season warmth short-circuiting the fall colors again this year. It should be better than 2018 but likely not as good as some of our better years.

Why do the leaves change color? As the days get shorter, chlorophyll is depleted, allowing other pigments (instead of green) to come out of hiding.

Why Leaves Change Color.png

Autumn officially gets underway very early in the day Monday.

First Day of Autumn.png