The change is underway and there are some bursts of decent color around here in at least a few spots. Unfortunately, I have seen more leaves turning brown and dropping without changing color more this year than any other fall in a long time.
The stress of drought conditions can cause the leaves to drop without changing colors.
We have been low on rain in several months of this year's growing season with only August above average rainfall. In June we received only 55% of normal rain and in September we ended up with only one third the average. This is the most likely reason for the early leaf drop this fall.
The pictures below are from our very on Ashley McCuen who works in the news studio. She took these a couple of years ago when we had a very good color season.
This is the hope for this year, but it may end up much less exciting.
Other factors that can lessen the fall colors are an early frost or freeze. The cold temps break down the process that changes the color.
If this happens early then colors would be duller and /or less in coverage. Heavy rain and wind can also knock down the leaves a little easier once they have changed colors bringing an end to the color display sooner than normal.
The map below is the latest guidance to fall color across Michigan.
The western Upper Peninsula is approaching max color and will probably get to that level next week. We are usually about two to three weeks behind that area for our best color in southeast Michigan.
Hopefully the leaves will get better and brighter by then and be able to hang on so we can take in all of Michigan's fall majesty.