Northeast Drought Could Threaten Penn State Fall Foliage Display

Penn State’s fall foliage display might look a little less vibrant and a lot crisper this season.

According to university experts, little rain in the long-term weather forecast could threaten Pennsylvania’s usually dynamic fall foliage.

“The drought is fairly extensive throughout the Northeast, but not in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York,” Marc Abrams, professor of forest ecology and physiology in the College of Agricultural Sciences said. “If this continues, there will be continued early coloration of trees, browning and leaf fall.”

Abrams has studied seasonal precipitation and temperature influence on fall colors in Pennsylvania and is well-known for predicting the quality of the local display each year. Early warnings indicate that conditions are ominous.

“Some of the drought-tolerant trees — such as oaks — that are seemingly handling the drought OK are not among the great color producers,” Abrams continued. “One of the most famous trees for fall color is sugar maple, but unfortunately it is a drought-sensitive tree. That spells more trouble, especially in northern Pennsylvania, northern New York and New England. Even the fairly drought-hardy red maple is starting to color early and losing leaves in places.”

Penn State fall foliage stans shouldn’t get too bummed, though. Experts say there’s still much to learn about fall foliage.

Abrams noted that in his 30 years of studying, foliage tends to be resilient. The trees by Carnegie might not show great color this year, but likely the display will still be aesthetically pleasing enough to constitute a new Penn State background.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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