Why do leaves change colors?

22News Storm Team Meteorologist Nick Bannin explains why leaves change colors

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Another October weekend means another big weekend for leaf peeping around western Massachusetts, and we are now starting to see some of the peak colors heading into northern Berkshire and western Franklin County now.

You may be wondering why do the leaves change to begin with. It’s all to do with chlorophyll, which is a chemical in the leaves which helps to absorb energy from the sun and takes that energy to help the trees grow.

That process comes to an end as we head through fall as the chlorophyll disappears. The chlorophyll is responsible for the green color in leaves, so as the chlorophyll fades, so does the green color and you are left with the colors underneath like the yellows, reds and oranges.

The weather clearly has an impact on fall foliage. Shorter, cooler days help to begin the leaf change. A wet September and October can dull the foliage color.

Drought can lead to early leaf drop like many have seen as early as this summer. An early frost can also take away from seeing some of those brilliant red colors and some of us did get frost early this year.

So while you’ll find some good color this weekend, there are certain factors working against us having a great fall foliage season this year.