Spectacular fall colors could be in store for western Pennsylvania: Here’s why

PITTSBURGH — This year’s autumn colors could be a bit brighter than we’ve seen in recent years if we can continue a relatively dry pattern in the next couple of weeks.

We live in one of the best parts of the country for fall foliage, with the Laurel Highlands and many of our more rural county roads providing an incredible backdrop to our seasonal change.

Our slightly wetter than normal summer should help to pop colors in October, but we have the best chance of a spectacular fall season of color if the rest of September and early October are drier than normal.

The leaves change when cooler, shorter days lead to the tree’s chlorophyll breaking down, allowing the other chemicals in the leaves to bring out the color. The heavy rain many of us saw from Ida last month could lead to less anthocyanin in the leaves, meaning fewer reds this year, but more yellows and oranges.

Peak season in our area is generally in the middle of October. However, our recent warm spell could back things up a week or two.