Tonawanda News


October 8, 2012

Summer drought conditions could weaken fall colors

Temperatures are dropping, fresh apple cider is being pressed, pumpkin patches are being prepped, but one tell-tale sign of fall weather might be a bit lacking this year.

Due to record-breaking high temperatures and lack of precipitation over the summer, there’s a possibility much of the Northeast will have meager offerings this fall when it comes to colorful foliage.

Figures for North Tonawanda indicate the city’s trees will have average coloration, but an abbreviated season.

Karl Niklas, Cornell University professor of plant biology — whose research focuses on the relationship between plants and their physical environment — predicts a weak and spotty year for leaf watchers.

“The prognosis for this year’s coloration is not good,” throughout the Northeast, he said.

“I wish I was wrong, but I’m predicting that this year’s autumn coloration will not be as grand as in years past,” he added. “Why? Because of sustained high temperatures and the drought that plagued the Northeast. In combination, high temperatures and a lack of soil water have stressed trees to a point where many trees are already shedding their leaves and those that have leaves are bearing browned leaves.”

Niklas described this year’s fall coloration is being a “patchwork of good and bad” throughout the Northeast depending on whether areas experienced a severe drought with simultaneously high temperatures in the 90s to low 100s.

“The high temperatures are not bad by itself, the is drought not bad by itself, but put those two together and it really damages the leaves,” he said.

This perfect storm of drought-like conditions causes a particular chemical change in leaves that prevents the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges from being exposed come time for cooler weather, Nicklas said.

“When you see the forest in its autumn coloration, the pigments that cause those colors are by and large in the leaf during the entire summer, but they’re hidden by the more intense chloraphyl concentrations,” he explained.

Text Only
  • SUN LIFE Volunteers honored 1 040614.jpg Women Who Move the City (and beyond)

    April 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE POUND 1040614j jpg.jpg Rock n' roll fitness

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - crib notes RGB Enough of this winter -- it's time for spring

    Midway through separating the bits of dog food from the shredded paper towel pieces on the saturated bed sheet that had been strewn across the dining-room table, I finally realized I’d had enough.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Dear readers, it's me, Kenny

    I have bad knees. I have been told to blame my grandmother. I have also been told to blame her for my love of animals. Today, we celebrate the 100th Critter Companions column.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE mummies 1 033014.jpg 'Mummies of the World' exhibit arrives in Buffalo

    As visitors arrived for the recent NCAA basketball tournament games in Buffalo, a much older group of visitors arrived via motorcade at the Buffalo Museum of Science — but these newcomers to the Queen City wouldn’t be seeking out a place to have a beer between games or where to find the region’s best chicken wings.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - double trouble RGB Years later, still spending sunny days on Sesame Street

    I always knew we’d hit “the Elmo years.”

    Going into parenthood, it seemed like a given. Both my husband and I  were “Sesame Street” fans from childhood ourselves, and we were happy enough to pass it on to a new generation. And we knew, having friends with children of the applicable age, that in this day and age “Sesame Street” equalled Elmo, the squeaky-voiced “furry red menace” (thus dubbed by Oscar the Grouch) of parents everywhere.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Local Restaurant Week 2 033014.jpg Back for another bite

    As spring finally starts to unfold in Western New York, residents are likely eager to get out of their houses — and organizers of Local Restaurant Week hope they’ll consider eating out as they do that.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wineries invite visitors to take a Taste of the Trail

    If one weekend of food and wine pairings is a good thing, two weekends of food and wine pairings must be even better.

    For the first time, the Taste of the Trail event, which takes place Friday through April 6 and April 11 to 13 on the Niagara Wine Trail, will be split into two weekends, with half the trail’s wineries taking part the first weekend and half the second, said Elizabeth Maute, wine trail coordinator.

    March 31, 2014

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Rewards for playing nice

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE signs of spring 1 032314.jpg Region's favorite signs of spring gear up for season

    Ah, the signs of spring: The birdsong, the flowers, the green grass, the flowing waters of the Erie Canal or Niagara River ... and the words “Opening soon” on the marquee of your favorite seasonal business.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo