Joe’s Weather Blog: Where are the colors? (WED-10/20)

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s another mild start to the day in the region with temperatures as the sun is rising in the 60° range. A cold front will be coming through the region, rather harmlessly though, and the cooler air will sort of come in this afternoon. Regardless we should still warm up to about 70° and then steady out in the afternoon.

The cooler air mass firms up a bit more overnight so that tomorrow morning is chilly, down to near 40° with a decent overnight breeze making it feel chillier. Maybe that will help the leaves start changing a bit more, although at the rate we’re going, they may end up just falling off green, or perhaps off-green. Not exactly a great season thus far for the fall colors.



Today: Clouds this morning then sunshine. Breezy and mild with highs around 70°.

Tonight: Fair and chillier with lows near 40°.

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny and cool with highs around 60°.

Friday: Partly cloudy and seasonable with highs in the mid-60s.



So yesterday I was playing golf at St Andrews in Overland Park, Kansas, and took a look around. It was a pretty morning out there, but I thought I’d show this on the news last night, not so much because it was a pretty day, but because of what you’re not seeing. Notice the colors on the trees… pretty much all still green.

Sure there are some browns mixed in and perhaps a pretty maple tree or two out there, but overall, at least so far, this fall season has been rather meh when it comes to colors around here. I don’t remember a more sluggish start to the fall color season.

We’re really about 5-10 days away from what is typically considered our peak season for colors. My fear is that the leaves may end up just falling off before they show their best colors. Either that or just rust/brown off. Sort of strange really.

I’ve been reading about this a bit, and part of the reason is the pretty warm weather we have seen this month. Only two days with temperatures below average, tomorrow may make three. Dry weather in September into October for about five weeks also wasn’t a good thing for the leaves. So far this month temperatures are running some 5° above average.

I was reading some research about the fall colors from a European research paper and thought this was an interesting finding:

There may be a connection to what’s happening now and a delayed leaf out in the spring of next year too! Something to sort of keep in the back of your mind if it happens. So there are some conversions needed because the research is in Celsius and we live in a Fahrenheit country, but roughly 2°C is near 4-5° F so perhaps the leaves are delayed by 5-10 days next spring.

And we’re not alone. As mentioned in previous blogs, there has been near-record to record warmth so far this October (in the big picture) across most of the eastern third of the country.

The west is cooler than average and the east, especially the Lakes region, is crazy mild for October standards. The delayed fall colors are commonplace in the eastern part of the country from New England through parts of the Plains.

While not totally unusual for us to still be waiting on our first widespread freeze and frost, so are many areas in the eastern part of the country.

The green circles are places where a freeze has occurred. Notice the absence from roughly I-35 to the Atlantic coast.
This shows where a killing freeze has happened…again most areas in the Plains and east…not yet. Strange though for the upper Midwest and Lakes area

I thought this was interesting: The coldest we’ve been so far is 40°. Now let’s look at data showing when the first time each fall we’ve hit 39° or lower:

We’re still waiting in 2021. Notice though that the last time we had to wait this long for a 39° or lower morning was the fall of 1973 some 50 years ago. So this is unusual.

We have a chance of getting there tomorrow and Friday, but it’s only a chance and there are some factors that may work to keep that from happening. If it doesn’t happen before the weekend, we may be waiting another week. Then we get into more rarified territory regarding this statistical quirk.


There is good news today for the folks out west affected by the devastating fires this year. There are 18 “large” fires still going, but the season seems to be winding down a bit.

Over the next five days, there is going to be a series of storms bringing a LOT of rain into the west.

This also means higher elevation snows too. This should effectively end the fire season for many areas of California at least, perhaps not all though.

Clearly the reservoirs can use it.

You can see compared to the historical averages (the red numbers), the current levels (blue numbers) are significantly lower.

So hopefully the start to rebuilding the levels heading into their wet season.

OK that’s about it for today. I didn’t want to get too involved with our weather since that’s my subject for tomorrow and I don’t want to repeat myself but here are the highlights:

  • Weekend rain chances, especially Saturday night into Sunday morning.
  • Possible impact on Kansas Speedway racing on Sunday, but perhaps round two waits until after the races.
  • Questionable temperatures: we could really warm up for a couple of days early next week depending on how things evolve Sunday and Monday.
  • No significant shots of cold air expected for a while.

Pretty moon last night… it is the Hunter’s Moon. This is from DeAnna Blair.


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