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Autumn Leaves . . . it's that time of year

Now that we are officially in autumn, leaves in many parts of the country are are staring to change color or have already done so. Have you ever wondered “Why do the leaves change color?” . . . or have you ever wondered “Does precipitation play a role in leaf color?”

“The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling,” says University of Kentucky agricultural meteorologist Tom Priddy. “Temperature and moisture are the main influences. …The countless combinations of these two highly variable factors assure that no two autumns can be exactly alike.”

And if you are just trying to find out where the leaves are turning during a certain week or in a certain place in the country, the Foliage Report Network: “The Foliage Network” keeps track of leaf colors in the midwestern and eastern half of the country and the US Forest Service keeps you advised on fall colors throughout the US at: “Fall Colors”.

For more info on the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events that are influenced by environmental changes, especially seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation driven by weather and climate, please visit the National Phenology Network Web site at: “National Phenology Network”.