Joe’s Weather Blog: What’s the deal with the leaves this season (TUE-11/9)

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Good morning…we we hit 71° yesterday for the 2nd day in a row. Today we will not get to 70° although it will really not be that bad of a day. Just fighting clouds for awhile really. Those clouds will slowly increase more tonight and there may be a few showers out there by daybreak tomorrow.

The better rain chances will arrive later in the afternoon into tomorrow night as a stronger cold front comes through the area. Thunderstorms are also possible to likely with this frontal passage so some locally heavy rains may accompany the front as it moves through and there will be wind.

That leads me to something I’ve been referring too off and on for the last month or so…the fall leaves. They’ve been “weird” I think. The usual trees have given us some great colors (maples I’m looking at you and continue to do so). The other trees though have gone all over the place. From browns to rusts and a few colors in between The thing though is that there are still A LOT of trees that haven’t turned. Take a look at this picture. I took this on Sunday when it was 73° and winds were gusting to over 30 MPH for awhile.

Still more greens out there…but the thing is we’re now coming into the middle of November.

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Forecast:

Today: Variable clouds but still mild. Lighter winds with highs in the lower 60s

Tonight: Lowering clouds with some scattered showers possible towards daybreak. Lows in the low 50s

Tomorrow: Scattered AM showers with dry intervals. Breezy and milder with highs into the 60s. Storms are more likely later in the day or evening.

Thursday: Sunny and blustery. Cooler with highs in the mid 50s

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Discussion:

Back to the above picture…and for clarity…I’m a meteorologist and not an arborist. So IF you are an arborist I’d appreciate you dropping some knowledge on me!

So the fall leaf season is just weird. I think part of this is connected to that warm October, but we’ve had warm Octobers before…maybe some of it is connected to the dry September…but we’ve had dry Septembers before. Maybe it’s the combination…but we’ve probably had that combination before. So what’s going on?

It’s not so much the randomness of the leaves changing (at least to me). It’s just odd that the leaves in more than a bunch of trees, have barely changed or are still green. This is a lot of anecdotal observation though. Here it is, almost the middle of November and the trees still look they way they do. Perhaps 2-3 weeks ago it would make sense.

We’re not alone in this…many areas in the eastern half of the country are going through something similar.

I do remember something like this happening in the past locally…I don’t remember the particular year that it happened…IF I were to guess it would be sometime in the late 90s (maybe 1998?) when we had a strong El Nino and I remember mowing into December because of the growing grass and the mild weather. Again that’s a guess on my part.

So I did some research on this and I believe the ongoing leaf issues are going through something called “marcescence”

I saw this on gardeningknowhow.com…

“Depending upon the variety, the tree may be experiencing marcescence. This occurs when some deciduous trees, usually beech or oak, fail to drop their leaves. This results in trees that are full or partially full, covered in brown, papery leaves. Winter marcescence is caused by the lack of enzymes produced by the tree. These enzymes are responsible for producing an abscission layer at the base of the leaf stem. This layer is what allows the leaf to easily be released from the tree. Without this, it is likely that the leaves will “hang on” throughout even the coldest periods of winter.”

Now there are trees around here that do retain their leaves into the winter season normally…the oaks come to mind and we have a lot of those around here…but what I think I’m observing is something more than the typical oak trees.

So is this a problem? Not necessarily but maybe. The way this becomes a problem is IF there is significant ice or snow with the leaves in a “frozen” state on the trees. That would add a lot of weight on the tree limbs and that would be problematic. It’s possible that the winds of November and the rains coming will knock a bunch of leaves off…and we do have a lot of wind on the way over the coming 7-10 days or so. We do have some heavy rains possible as well…but it’s something that I wanted to get ahead of in discussing with you.

Again if there are any arborists out there my ears are open!

Onwards…

Our cold front has pushed towards the Lakes area where it’s just about turned into a stationary front at this point.

Temperatures on RED

The front will stop and then retreat back northwards as a warm front tonight and tomorrow morning…bring with it higher dewpoints and warmer air again for Wednesday.

Then tomorrow a stronger cold front will move into the middle of the country…and that front will set off a large area of rain in KS moving towards the KC area later in the day.

3PM Surface forecast off the NAM model. Winds are shown

Ahead of the front south winds…behind the front gustier northwest/west winds.

There will be potentially some instability ahead of the front…so at least some storms may accompany the rains coming through later in the day…and I can’t rule out some small hail with this either. The best timing for convection is after 3PM or so. The rain should be done towards 12AM and that’s it.

1/2″- 1 1/2″ is possible in this for many areas but the convection means some get over 1″ while others are short of that. Nice to have the new model data now earlier with the time change…

NAM model
Hi res NAM model

So some areas should get a good rain from this…we’ll just have to see how this sets up later in the afternoon tomorrow.

Blustery weather is likely on Thursday. The winds above us will really be churning away but there will be a downslope to this wind so we should still get into the 50s but it will feel chillier than that.

Odds are Saturday morning we may see a hard freeze…with 20s likely. Friday morning may also get close as well depending on the wind situation.

A reinforcing shot of colder air comes in on Sunday as well.

So let’s end this with a nice picture of the foliage from Lara Bee along the Table Rock Trail in Raytown, MO

Joe

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