With Labor Day having come and gone, we are now heading quickly toward the final days of the the summer season. However, even before the we were a week into the month of September, there have been a few trees spotted around the area that are starting to display patches of red or orange. In general, the peak of the fall colors in North Central Wisconsin doesn't usually roll around until early October. However, there are years where the process gets a jump start.
The first culprit is a dry spring and summer season...which certainly held true for many of the past few months. The exception was August when the rain gauge gushed over with 6"+ of rain in Wausau, while in Rhinelander the tally was closer to 4" and actually a half inch below the monthly average. Looking at the big picture in precipitation, for the year the deficit is in the range of 3" in Wausau to over 7" below normal in Rhinelander. So this stress due to lack of moisture not only nudges those trees to begin showing a bit of color, but also could lead to somewhat duller colors once the peak of the season arrives.
A couple other aspects to keep in mind is how chilly it gets at night. We did have some frost across parts of the Northwoods wrapping up August. If another cold Canadian airmass settles in later this month, not only will those leaves pick up the pace in changing colors, but a hard frost or freeze could quickly cause those leaves to hit the ground fast. In addition, if you haven't noticed, the daylight hours are getting shorter. Between now and the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd, a little over an hour of daylight will disappear. So those carefree times of seeing the sun after 7pm will fade until next spring. Meantime, less daylight means the leaves lose one of their main sources for producing chlorophyll (that keeps them green) and triggers the transition to those reds and oranges on the trees. In the coming weeks, we will begin to give you an update on the Wisconsin fall colors on our 24/7 Weather Channel and if it is a quiet weather day, perhaps during some newscasts.
In the meantime, take advance of the warm weather while it lasts.
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