Fall brings beautiful vibrant colors to many parts of the United States. As of October 5, the higher elevations and northern latitudes experienced peak colors, with some spots in the mountains, New England and northern Midwest sailing past their peak season. As for the state of Kansas, a few spots in the northeast and far western part of the state experience patchy conditions, with the majority of the state still seeing minimal changes so far.
Looking ahead, the higher elevations and northern latitudes are either past their peak, or peak within the next week. The state of Kansas still has a way to go. Areas of northeastern Kansas and far western Kansas will peak the last week of October with a majority of the state peaking after November 1.
The weather has a big impact on how vibrant each year’s foliage will be. The two main weather factors that come into play are temperature and moisture. During fall, warm and sunny days are important in order to have vibrant leaf colors. The warmth and sunshine allow certain sugars to form that eventually produce the colorful pigment. Cooler nights are optimal as they help lock those sugars into the leaf.
Early frost and extreme drought can often hurt the fall foliage or impact the timing of peak season. Seasonal drought can alter trees in northwest Kansas a bit, creating slightly more muted colors in 2021.
In an ideal year, you want a warm wet spring followed by average summer conditions, and then a warm and sunny fall. Aside from a few patches in Kansas, ample spring moisture and near to above average summer temperatures were followed by a warm start to fall, helping to create ideal conditions for a good year of fall colors.
Due to these conditions throughout the state of Kansas, we assume we will see a near-average year of fall colors.
Kansas has plenty of native trees that put on quite the show when it comes to fall colors. Many home and business owners will also plant specific trees, like maples, to allow for beautiful fall colors. Sugar Maples, Shumard Oaks, Cottonwoods, Chinese Pistache and Golden Rain trees are all species to look out for this fall in Kansas as they often display vibrant colors.
-Meteorologist Warren Sears