WEATHER BLOG: Science behind changing leaves

Posted at 8:57 AM, Nov 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 09:57:02-05

By now, we know the best places to see the fall colors in East Oklahoma. For some of us, that is even in our own backyard! But have you ever wondered about the science behind WHY they change color?


As the seasons change and the cooler weather settles in, the days get shorter and the amount of sunlight decreases. The response from trees during this time is to produce less chlorophyll. As the chlorophyll breaks down, the green wears off and stunning shades of yellow, orange, and red break through. And if you are like me, you may have noticed the the colors look more vibrant this year. Well there is actually a reason why!


This year we have had a number of warm, sunny autumn days and cool nights, but few of them have dropped below freezing. These types of weather conditions are conducive to allowing for bold colors to develop. It has also been drier than normal. That helps the colors develop more! During wet, warm fall seasons the colors tend to be less vibrant. And the frost or freeze will typically kill off the leaves as well. We have only had a couple mornings, to date, in Tulsa where temperatures dipped below freezing - which has once again helped the color of our leaves!