Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Wet spring may mean bright fall



By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cooler than normal temperatures this fall should usher in the splendor of autumn's fabulous colors a little early this year - and those colors will be more brilliant and plentiful than usual.

Although today is the first day of autumn, leaves in Southwest Ohio don't typically turn red, yellow, brown and orange until late October.

FALL COLOR LINKS
Go to Cincinnati.com to find:
• Places to view fall colors in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and throughout the U.S.
• Links to fall color Webcams
• Photos and other fall color information
That could be different this year because cooler temperatures are predicted for the next two months. A change in wind patterns will pour cold air from Canada into the Midwest starting in early October, AccuWeather meteorologists say.

"The lower temperatures may speed the process" of leaves changing color, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

Fall color traditionally begins with a splash of color in northern Ohio the last week of September, then travels south. Colors peak by mid-October through most of the state.

And it's going to be a good season, said Bill Schultz, a forester with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. The wet spring and summer in the Tristate means there are more leaves to turn colors this year, Schultz said. Cool, bright days over the next few weeks will add to their brilliance, he added. Ohio has some of the best fall color viewing in the country, even better than Northeastern states. That's because Ohio has a greater variety of trees - especially colorful hardwoods - than New England and other states that draw tourists to see autumn colors, Schultz said. "Ohio doesn't play second stage to anyplace in the country," Schultz said. "There are over 150 types of trees in the state. ... It's an artist's palette of color possibilities."

Different trees produce different colors. For example, buckeye leaves can turn yellow to red to orange. Hickory, sycamore and basswood leaves turn yellow and gold, while oak, cherry and dogwood leaves turn red in the fall.

Enjoy it while you can.

The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts December and early January in the Greater Ohio Valley will average 7 degrees below normal, with heavy snowfall before Thanksgiving.

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E-mail dklepal@enquirer.com




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