Above average temperatures are causing a delay in leaves changing color

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –It’s no secret that this fall has been abnormally warm. In September we had a stretch of 90 degree days and aside from a few outlying cold days, a lot of October has been above average too. Dr. Daniel L Potts, associate professor of biology at SUNY Buffalo State explained to News 4 just how warm it has been. He said, “In terms of temperatures, particularly in the early autumn and middle autumn it’s been much much warmer.”

Not a lot of people had complaints when it came to the unexpected heat, but now as we head into what usually is the most beautiful time of year in Western New York and leaves aren’t changing, people are wondering why. The heat plays a big role in why. Potts said, “Warm nights have slowed the synthesis process in these plants and in the trees which means they’ve kept their green chlorophyll pigments longer and those pigments are masking the yellows and oranges and red.”

Potts hopes that when temperatures cool down a bit more, that we will still be able to see the long awaited color change. But it takes more cold then what we’ve seen so far this season. He shared, “The trees are gradually looking at accumulated change over time. So one or two cold days doesn’t redirect their physiology entirely.”

Areas south of Buffalo have started the process because they have seen more cool nights over the last few weeks, but even those areas haven’t seen as great of a change as usual. Potts shared his experience. He said, “The leaf color change is underway in the Southern Tier. We were down at Letchworth on Saturday, it was a beautiful day, lots of people were out enjoying the leaves, but I definitely noticed there were not as many oranges and reds.”

So even you summer weather lovers should be keeping close tabs on the forecast moving forward. Without at least a week long cold snap, the leaves changing color may not happen.

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