Lately, the KVUE staff has seen pictures of beautiful fall colors in Central Texas! There are some years that the leaves seem bright and colorful and other years that leaves are brown and dull. This contrast has to do with the weather during the growing season and weather during the late summer and early fall.
Why do leaf colors change, anyway?
Fall is a time for trees to switch from their summer green to their colorful fall yellows, oranges and reds. The yellows, oranges and reds are the leaves' natural colors. These colors are hidden by a chemical called chlorophyll.
In the spring, trees sprout leaves in order for the leaves to make food through a process called photosynthesis. Leaves then produce the chemical chlorophyll in order to trap sunlight that is later turned into sugars and starches or food for the tree. Chlorophyll is green, so the leaves look green too.
PHOTOS: Autumn colors fall across Austin
In the late summer months when the days are shorter, leaves slow down the production of chlorophyll in preparation for winter. This allows their natural pigments of yellow, oranges, and reds to come out.
Why are the colors brighter this year?
The spring, or growing season, was wet. Only March had slightly below-average rainfall. This allowed for trees to sprout more leaves.
The summer was dry. This could have caused leaves to prematurely dry and fall off, but luckily, enough of our foliage held on until fall when more rain was seen.
Warm, sunny days and cool fall nights with above-freezing temperatures are key for brighter colors in the fall. The bright light and plant sugars in leaves make the leaves shine their brightest under these weather conditions.
Enjoy the colors while they last! Know that the beautiful colors are a result of just the right weather conditions.
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