NKwhy: When are the leaves going to change color?

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After record-high temperatures last week, it’s fair to say that a lot of Northern Kentuckians are ready for fall.  

Seriously: Last week was the hottest week of the year, with temperatures reaching higher than they have in 10 years. While the official start of fall isn’t for a few weeks, temperatures are dropping into the low 50s this week — and that’s probably getting people excited for the changing season. 

One of the most scenic and anticipated parts of autumn in the Midwest is the appearance of fall foliage. As the temperatures drop lower and the days become shorter, brilliant oranges, reds and yellows will start to cover deciduous trees all over the region. 

With the season change just around the corner, we wondered, when do the leaves start to change in NKY? 

Oct. 5 through 21 seems to be the best time to peep some autumnal leaves in NKY, according to the Famers’ Almanac. While this is the predicted time frame, the exact moment the leaves will begin to change is not something that can be predicted exactly, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture

If you’re looking for the best, most brilliant leaf viewing, the weather over the next few weeks will affect the season’s colors.

“A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays,” according to the USDA. 

Soil moisture also has a great effect on leaf color. A late spring or a severe summer drought can delay the change, and a warm fall will dull the colors, per the USDA. The department says the best fall colors will be brought on by “a warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights.”

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Where are the best places to view leaves? 

The best place to view fall leaves in the Midwest/Great Lake Region, which encompasses the Northern portion of Kentucky as well as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, is Big South Fork National Recreation Area, per the Famers’ Almanac. This massive 125,000-acre park sits right on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, with portions of it in each state. 

For those who don’t feel like making that 3.5-hour drive, there are plenty of scenic spots closer to home to view leaves. 

The Boone County Arboretum has over 3,600 trees and shrubs on its 121 acres of land. Plenty of those plants and trees will be losing their leaves over the next month or so, making it a perfect place for spotting fall colors. 

With a well-known panoramic view of Cincinnati plus miles of walking trails lined with trees, Covington’s Devu Park is another local spot worth venturing to this fall. 

When is it finally going to be fall? 

Some consider the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, which showed up on menus last week, the start of the season. However, we still have a few weeks till the true start. 

The autumn equinox is Sept. 23, which is the official start of fall, but that doesn’t mean the weather will get the memo. 

Looking at the long-range forecast for the region from the Farmers’ Almanac, temperatures are going to stay “very warm” in the beginning half of September, with things beginning to cool off in the second half, leading up to a chilly but sunny October. 

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What do you do when the leaves drop? 

While fall leaves are truly a beautiful sight, they can be sort of a nuisance when they drop. 

Many NKY cities, including Florence, Covington and Fort Thomas, have leaf pick-up days where you can take all the leaves from your yard to the curb and the leaves will be vacuumed up and disposed of. 

Check out your town’s website for updates on leaf removal. There will also typically be signs posted around town letting residents know not to park on the street during the removal windows. 

If your municipality does not offer this service, Rumpke can come out and remove yard waste for you. Rumpke asks that you do not throw yard waste away and you contact them for removal.

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