October 13, 2008
It's the time of year when leaf enthusiasts leave city life to venture out to view the transition of green leaves to vivid oranges, reds, and yellows. However, before you pack the car up and travel to Shenandoah National Park or set the navigator for the Blue Ridge parkway, knowing what the fall foliage season of 2008 has in store could help you get the most out of your trip.
For central Virginia, the peak of the Fall Foliage can vary year to year but for this year-
"We expect peak fall colors to be in late October, around the third or fourth week of the month", said Gregg O'Donnell, the spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Although the drought situation in the area has significantly improved, it came just a little bit too late for this year
"The late season rain certainly helps the trees but it's really too little too late in terms of making for real vivid, bright fall colors."
The amount of rain received during the summer months also determines the duration of the color on the trees.
"I don't think we are going to see the colors stay on the trees for a particularly long time, I think we're going to see them transition from green to color to transition to brown to quickly drop off the trees."
The process of changing colors is mainly dependent on sunlight and temperature.
"All the colors that are in a trees leaf are in there all year long. During the summer months the green colors are absorbed the most sunlight for photosynthesis. As the days get shorter, as the temperatures change, the trees respond to that to bringing out different colors in the leaves", explained O'Donnell.
Something different to do this year than just viewing the leaves is to make it educational.
"To help citizens of Virginia learn about the trees of Virginia we provide a trees of Virginia guide and this guide shows you how to, has drawings, line drawings inside that shows you how to identify trees, leaves, bark, the fruit, the flowers. It can make, it can add another dimension to looking at fall colors in the fall."
The Department of Forestry has a lot of new things on their website this year. They have launched a blog where people can discuss the Fall Foliage across Virginia and even post pictures. The Virginia guide to trees can also be ordered there.