In case you haven't noticed, we've gone from too much moisture earlier in the summer to not enough rain recently. And while we wait on the weather pattern to change, our trees are starting to let us know they are literally getting stressed.
Looking around outside, you'll see some trees, especially poplar trees, already shedding their leaves.
Normally in the fall, as days get shorter and the sun angle decreases, and the tree responds by reducing their amount of chlorophyll, allowing other pigments already in the tree to turn the colors we see to yellow, orange, red and even purple. It's a gradual process when the weather is bahaving, with colors peaking in early October in the mountains of Virginia to late October in the piedmont. During dry and warm weather, though, the tree is put under extra stress and can go dormant early.
In Roanoke, the months of June, July, and August were all ended above normal for precipitation. Then the weather turned dry. So far for September, Roanoke is 1.42" below normal. In Lynchburg, it has not rained over a trace in 24 days.
On top of that, our temperatures have been very warm - even hot - for this time of the year. Normal highs are supposed to be around 79 degrees in the Roanoke Valley. Wednesday afternoon temps were around 90 as of this writing. This year, we've had 37 days where the temperature has reached 90 or above.
Granted, not all of the trees have gone brown, but you can spot a few out there already. There's still time over the next few weeks for us to pick up some much-needed rainfall and hopefully reverse the trend we're seeing. Cooler temps and clouds are in the forecast for Thursday and Friday behind a cold front that will be moving through Wednesday evening. Right now there are hopes that another cold front will help focus some showers and storms over Virginia by Sunday and Monday.