Finally, it feels like fall across Hampton Roads! With the crisp mornings and sunshine filled afternoons, many of us have been able to enjoy fall festivities in the community. And with that, comes a staple to the season, the changing of the leaves.
Like clockwork, around mid-October is the timeframe the commonwealth begins to see the pretty colors in the leaves. For those views, it’s best to head up to Shenandoah National Park as it takes a few more weeks for those colors across Hampton Roads.
Climate changes effect on our autumn seasons has, in a way, some effects on the timing of color changes as there are many factors that go into fall foliage. Primarily, it’s temperature, sun exposure and rainfall driven.
Warmer autumn season, especially in October, can contribute to a delayed start to leaf color and drop. In Norfolk, our average low temperatures has increased 4° since 1970 in the month of October as our climate and atmosphere holds more moisture and warmth.
On the other hand, increased risk of drought and streaks of summer heat can contribute to an earlier start to the leaf color and drop. The dry conditions and drought over the past several weeks across Hampton Roads is a prime example of that, with some leaves changing colors and dropping from their branches.
In the spring, it’s better understood that warming winters lead to earlier spring blooms – but in the fall, the connection of climate change and fall foliage is a bit more varied, as there are many factors that contribute to the colorful views of the spooky season.
Meteorologist Steve Fundaro