Pennsylvania's Palette
October 05, 2013 10:49 AM
by RANDY WELLS

People who enjoy the spectacle of brilliantly colored autumn leaves are especially blessed if they live in Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Keystone State has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than anywhere on earth. Pennsylvania’s location between 40 degrees and 42 degrees North latitude and its topography ranging from sea level to over 3,000 feet supports 134 species of trees and many more shrubs and vines that contribute to Mother Nature’s fall decorations.

“We’ve had ideal weather” recently for creating dazzling displays of autumn leaves — a succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp, but not freezing — nights, said David Planinsek, a forester with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

“Elevation will play a large role in color change” this fall, Planinsek added, with trees on higher ridges changing colors a week or more earlier than those in valleys.

And, he said, southwestern Pennsylvania had a good amount of rain over the summer and early fall, and that contributed to the general good health of area trees.

Two other factors — leaf pigments and the length of night — influence autumn color. As days grow shorter and nights get longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the leaves transform the commonwealth’s landscape with color.

According to a DCNR website, leaf colors in Indiana County will likely be most dramatic from Oct. 10-21.

Many local residents have favorite driving routes through Indiana County for enjoying the fall foliage. Tips for planning a longer “leaf-peeping” excursion, and dates of local events along the routes, are on the “Fall in PA” page at www.visitpa.com.

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