Weather Blog: Fall is Here!

Weather Blog

Fall foliage at Lake Wedington in 2014. Image: Mike Price

It is time to bring out the sweaters and grab all the pumpkin spice foods you can. FALL IS FINALLY HERE! The official start of fall was this morning at 8:30 A.M. CDT!

Today is the annual Fall Equinox, also known as the Autumnal Equinox, which is considered the official start to the fall season. Based on when the sun is directly over the equator, the start of fall can change based on the year with the first day being between September 21-24. For example, the start of fall last year was on September 23.

Besides the start of another season, the Fall Equinox is one of two days each year the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere receive the exact same amount of daylight. This leads to equal hours of daylight and night for both hemispheres. This will happen again in 6-months for the Spring (Vernal) Equinox on March 20, 2021.

Besides being the transition between the warm summer months and the chilly winter months, fall offers the chance to see the beautiful fall foliage. The trick to getting the amazing colors as the leaves fall is rainfall!

This Year’s Fall Colors

If we have a dry August and September, the leaves end up turning brown and we don’t get a great display of color. The best combination for breath-taking colors is a wet August, followed by a dry September. However, it is a delicate balance. If we get a wet August and wet September, then the leaves will be too saturated and fall really quick.

Fall colors at Maple leaf cemetery on October 28, 2018. Image: Terri Boggs Rowe

Unfortunately, the set up is not looking great this year in Northwest Arkansas. August was very dry with only 1.14″ of rain recorded at Drake Field for the month (2.10″ below-average). The problem is September has also been very dry, with only 1.39″ recorded so far (currently 1.51″ below-average). With a dry August and September, the leaves will be dried out and likely turn brown quickly this year.

Lake Wedington Fall Foliage. Image: Mike Price

In the River Valley, we had a very wet August with almost 10-inches of rain recorded in Fort Smith for the month (7.39″ above-average). However, the month of September has also been very wet with 5.49-inches recorded as of September 20 (3.01″ above-average). While historically this means the leaves are too saturated, we could still squeeze out some beautiful colors in the River Valley this fall.

Typically, peak color for Northwest Arkansas is late October/early November so we do have a little bit of time before those vibrant fall colors arrive.

Fall colors at Shiloh Museum. Image: Susan Watson Breese

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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