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Sunday Science: Foliage season preview - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sunday Science: Foliage season preview

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CHARLOTTE, Vt. -

These days Bruce Drummond lives in Iowa. But he can't resist the occasional trip to the 802. Bruce attended UVM in the mid 1980s. "I just fell in love with Vermont and still am," he says.

The scenery never gets old. Bruce's wife Meredith is taking advantage of the few leaves beginning to turn into the colors of autumn. "Along the way I've been collecting leaves to send back to my friend Holly in Iowa, which of course is pretty much flat. So I've been taking pictures silhoutted against the ground -- ones that strike me," she says.

Striking colors will be easy to find in the coming weeks. Especially when the temps start feeling more fall-like. "One of the biggest drivers of color expression is frost," says Paul Schaberg, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Forest Service. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field. He says the warm temperatures we've been seeing could have an impact in this year's foliage. "So if a warm weather pattern means a delayed first frost, that could extend the growing season, but delay the onset of color expression," he says.

High terrain areas tend to see the first frosts, so this is where the best early season color can often be found. Some folks-- and furry friends-- are ready for a cool-down.  "They can't wait for it, especially the guy right here," says Ken Cameron.

Reporter Nick Borelli: Are you ready for the cooler weather?

Ken Cameron: Oh I can't wait for it.

This season, warmer than normal temperatures isn't the only factor at play. The overall pattern has been somewhat dry. "If it's a mild drought then it could trigger a mild stress, and an early senescence of leaves. An actually enhance the color expression," says Schaberg.

When trees get a little stressed, they tend to produce more red pigments, which is good news for leaf peeping. But if the drought gets too bad, the leaves turn very quickly from green to brown, then dry up. Schaberg doesn't think that's likely. He's expecting a good season. "As leaf peepers we need to be exploring. Going around and looking at all those different environments, cause there's gonna be great color. You just have to find it," he says.

Vegetation on drier soils could see the foliage turn a bit early. But areas with more moisture may take a little while longer, because of the warm temps.

Either way come October those leaves will leave us in love with Vermont. "There's such a kaleidoscope of colors about to start popping," says Meredith.

And we've started our second year of our "Leafies" campaign. As those colors start to change, we want to see your view of Vermont. You can send them in to us on our Facebook and on Twitter with the hastags #leafies and #worldsbestfoliage!

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