How the weather colors Vermont's fall foliage - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How the weather colors Vermont's fall foliage

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STOWE, Vt. -

Annette Devinney traveled hundreds of miles to visit Vermont.

"We love the fall, we love the foliage and just always wanted to come up here," said Devinney of Pittsburgh.

The pops of red and yellow are already impressing her.

"Oh, it's stunning, stunning," Devinney said. "I think we are a week early for peak, but good enough. Beautiful."

Already some pops of color are showing up, especially across the high terrain. But in the coming weeks we have a whole lot more to look forward to. As the days get shorter, the leaves will start to lose their green chlorophyll, exposing some of the fall colors underneath. Plant Physiologist Paul Schaberg of the U.S. Forest Service says this process can be accelerated by cold temperatures.

"The low temperatures mean the green is not replenished quickly, and as you see less of the green produced, then you see the yellows coming out," Schaberg said.

Some parts of our region see this process begin a bit earlier than others.

"That's why you see it first, usually at higher elevations, because it's colder there first," Schaberg explained.

Many folks believe that the red leaves are most striking. Red pigments develop after the trees are put under some sort of stress.

"We know from lab studies that cold, intense sun and even pollution can help bring out that red color," Schaberg said.

Generally speaking, chilly nights and sunny days strike a sweet spot for developing foliage. Some species, such as red maple, tend to put on a bigger show.

"Some species are very flexible in responding to the environment and producing red pigmentation," Schaberg said.

Foliage also requires something else that may seem rather obvious-- the trees must hold onto their leaves. Wet summers, like the one we just had, can prevent some trees from getting enough oxygen, potentially triggering leaf loss. But Schaberg says some trees are built to cope with the extremes.

"A lot of trees that are living in those low-lying areas are trees that are adapted to those sorts of circumstances," he said.

Good news there.

So, now we just have to hope that the weather cooperates and we don't see any big windstorms.

"We're having cooler temperatures in the evenings a lot. And with some sun, things should be great," Schaberg said.

The brilliant foliage is part of the reason that visitors like Devinney will keep coming back.

"We are already thinking about what we are going to do next time," she said.

A list that will likely include more leaf peeping.

Many spots should start to see peak foliage over the next 2-3 weeks.

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