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Environment & Energy

Leaf Peepers, Rejoice: Good Weather Expected to Bring Bright Fall Colors

Experts are saying healthy amounts of rain and fair temperatures throughout Pennsylvania this year should bring a dazzling display of fall foliage.

Leaves in the southwestern region of the commonwealth are expected to reach their fullest color between mid- and late-October.

Doug Langford, a forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said people living in a more urban environment should take a trip to the countryside if they want to have a true fall experience.

“I would look for just larger patches of trees and forest land, park-like landscapes, maybe some ridgelines,” he said. “But for scenic driving you definitely want to move out towards the Laurel Highlands.”

Langford said the leaves around the Highlands change colors sooner than trees around Pittsburgh because of their higher elevation and colder nights.

“You have ample sunlight, warm, dry days and then you have cool, clear nights…,” he said, “and that drastic temperature change, without the cloud cover, really does help to bring on a good fall foliage.”

Langford said it’s the shorter days that make the leaves change hues.

Photosynthesis within the leaves is slowed because of the colder, drawn out nights, causing chlorophyll, which gives leaves their natural green color, to break down and allow other colors to come through.

Weekly foliage maps are available online starting through October that highlight the color change percentage throughout the state.

According to the DCNR, Pennsylvania’s changing of the leaves lasts longer than any other state in the country, and only three other regions in the world host similar colorful deciduous forests: the British Isles and parts of China and Japan.