CBS4’s Fall Color 4Cast: Viewing Should Be Good This Year, But May Be Short-Lived

DENVER (CBS4) – The arrival of September means it will soon be time for another trip to see the fall color. It’s a Colorado icon that brings thousands to the high country each year.

And while the color is good just about every season, some are better than others in terms of how vibrant the color appears and how long it’ll last. The weather plays an important role.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Justin McHeffey shows off the fall colors on Guanella Pass in mid-September 2014. (credit: CBS)

WHY COLOR HAPPENS

As the days grow shorter trees and shrubs prepare for winter by shutting down the production of chlorophyll, which is what gives leaves their green color. That process allows other colors inside a leaf to show through. The result is a brilliant display including shades of red, yellow, orange and gold.

Sam Toscano of Broomfield took this Colorado fall colors photo on Sept. 19, 2010, on Pyramid Peak "from the top of Buttermilk Mtn."

Sam Toscano of Broomfield took this Colorado fall colors photo on Sept. 19, 2010, on Pyramid Peak “from the top of Buttermilk Mtn.”

Colorado’s most famous tree to capture on film is the aspen, which stand out brilliantly when mixed with other tree species, including evergreens.

A goal of many photographers is trying to capture that perfect view of “Colorado Gold” on a clear crisp morning where you can see the contrast of a deep blue sky in the background. A dusting of fresh snow on nearby mountain peaks can be the icing on the cake for that perfect snapshot.

COLORADO’S WEATHER CENTER: Fall Color Guide

THIS YEAR’S FORECAST

It’s difficult to predict just how intense this year’s color will be and how long it’ll last. The answer lies in how September’s weather patterns develop. Ideal conditions would include mild days and cool nights with little to no wind and just enough moisture to preserve the color.

SECTION: CBS4’s FALL COLOR GUIDE – POPULAR DRIVES AROUND COLORADO

The latest September outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center calls for a trend toward cool and wet conditions which could play to our favor. But that could also mean an active jet stream will be nearby and if that’s the case, there’s the potential for some windy days.

The latest outlook for September precipitation trends in the United States. (credit: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center)

The latest outlook for September precipitation trends in the United States. (credit: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)

The latest outlook for September temperature trends in the United States. (credit: NOAA's Climate Prediction Center)

The latest outlook for September temperature trends in the United States. (credit: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center)

A little fall color was already visible on this tree in southeast Aurora on Sept. 1, 2015. (credit: Meteorologist Chris Spears)

A little fall color was already visible on this tree in southeast Aurora on Sept. 1, 2015. (credit: Meteorologist Chris Spears)

Unfortunately there is no crystal ball when it comes to predicting this year’s fall color. One thing you can count on is there will be plenty of it at some point. During most years color starts to show up as we approach Labor Day with peak conditions in the northern mountains by mid to late September.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

As always we’d love to see your pictures this season! They can be sent to YouReport@CBSDenver.com or via Facebook and Twitter. If using social media be sure to tag CBS4 and use hash tags including #FallColor #CBS4 and #4wx.

Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

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