Autumn foliage likely to be less colorful this year PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 23 September 2007 23:11

From the Missouri Department of Conservation 

Multiple weather conditions conspired to limit the vividness of fall color.

JEFFERSON CITY-Missourians will find fall color spotty this year. Officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation say the reason is an unusual combination of factors.

Conservation Department foresters statewide predict a less colorful fall than normal. A catastrophic ice storm that devastated trees across a wide swath of southwest Missouri in January set the stage for bad news there, wrecking trees across a wide swath of southwest Missouri.

Trees seemed to get a break with record warm weather statewide in March and responded by leafing out extra early. This worsened the damage they suffered when the temperature plummeted into the 20s and teens for several days in a row early in April. Trees grew leaves to replace frozen ones, but the new flush did not equal the first crop in many cases.

Next came floods, which stressed trees in some areas by drowning their roots for days or weeks. Then came weeks of temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s. Drought compounded the damage. All these events left trees stressed, some fatally.

"2007 has been a tough year for trees in the Show-Me State," said Conservation Department Education Outreach Coordinator Matt Seek. "Fall color is going to be patchy as a result."

Fall color normally peaks near the second or third week in October in Missouri. The exact timing depends on location and weather. The peak normally occurs approximately a week earlier in northern Missouri than in the southern part of the state, but unseasonably cold weather can hasten its arrival and departure. Likewise, warm weather can delay and extend the peak.

While the overall fall color outlook is below average, Seek emphasized that brilliant colors still will occur in some areas. Furthermore, he said, the outlook could improve if Missouri experiences warm days and cool nights between now and mid-October.

For more information about fall colors and where to enjoy them, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/forest/.