Drought could result in muted fall colors for central Virginia in 2023
The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia is in a severe drought, which will likely mean fall colors are not as vibrant there this autumn
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A dry summer across much of central Virginia could result in less impressive fall colors than usual this year.
Drought typically means trees don’t produce fall colors that are as vibrant as they would be in a year with near or above average rainfall. If the summer months leading up to fall foliage season are dry, leaves on trees will often dry out and prematurely fall off the tree without changing colors much.
Sometimes leaves will turn directly from green to brown before dropping according to explorefall.com.
The Shenandoah Valley near Harrisonburg has been especially hard hit by drought this summer. The drought monitor as of September 8 shows an area of severe drought stretching from Staunton northward along the I-81 corridor towards Northern Virginia, surrounded by an area of moderate drought that includes the Charlottesville area.
The Richmond metro and points east are under abnormally dry conditions.
Explorefall.com has developed a map that shows areas of low, moderate, and high stress on trees. The area outlined with high tree stress will likely have muted fall colors this year.
An area of high tree stress is outlined that includes many of the same locations seeing severe/moderate drought on the drought monitor. The high-stress area includes the Shenandoah Valley, Louisa, Orange, Hanover, Caroline counties and much of the Northern Neck.
Surrounding the area of high tree stress is an area of moderate tree stress that includes the rest of central and most of southern Virginia where fall colors will be less vibrant, but colors there should be better than in the high-stress area.
Even if it starts to rain more in September, rain at this point in the year will probably be too late to make much of a difference, because leaves have already started to dry out.
There will still be some fall color this year, and it will likely peak in late October in the Richmond metro area. It will probably just be less impressive than in prior years.
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