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Fall Foliage and Fire Season News

Summer Drought to Affect Fall Colors/Trees

This Thursday afternoon scattered shower and thunderstorm action is on the prowl. Local street flooding downpours are clogging up some storm sewers and SOME gardens and lawns are getting a much needed drink of aqua. That said, August is coming to an end and it will go down as a dry month. Coming on the heels of a parched spring-summer, the growing season has proved to be disappointing at best for farmers and in many cases a flat out lost cause. See my blog from Tuesday for a look at expected crop yields.

Now we turn our attention to meteorological fall (September thru November), the normal dry season here in Appalachia. That’s right, the next 3 months, on average, are the driest quarter of the calendar year.

The last time it was this dry in August was the summer of 2002. That year, high temperatures well into September reached the 80s and 90s. So high school soccer and football players, September workouts will still be hot and sweaty. Just be glad 2 a days are behind us. By the way, that winter was harsh and snowy!

Now, barring the passage of the remnants of a hurricane, the fall is likely to be drier than normal. That is actually good news for farmers as harvests will be going-on and save for late planted crops, rains will not help foster better crops at this point.

Meanwhile as John Marra told us last week, the leaves are beginning to change color somewhat prematurely. I make this blanket statement, namely; “all falls are pretty in our region. It’s the way God intended it”. That said though, this year’s colors are likely to be off from their prime coloration as the drought stresses the deciduous trees and forces an early coloring (then faster browning and leaf fall).

Once down, those leaves will be fuel for forest fires and conditions this fall could be the worst in more than a decade should rains be sub-normal as expected. The fall fire season is set to begin October 1st, but given the summer drought, any windy and warm day in September could be a candidate for a bad fire day.

One final note, Wayne Browning, Virginia state climatologist out of Clintwood, reminds me that after the scorching and drought riddled summer of 1988, September rains came aplenty and the leaves came on like gangbusters. So if ’88 is a gauge, we are just one wet month from a good fall foliage season.


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