What’s the Weather: Fall colors forming

Weather Authority University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Since we’re well into fall, it’s about time we talk about a classic fall activity – leaf peeping.

Why do the leaves change colors?

For the answer, we have to go back to grade school when you learned about how plants make their food using sunlight and a pigment called chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is green. So, when plants are getting plenty of sunlight and making plenty of food during the spring and summer, those leaves will be green because the chlorophyll is very active.

However, as we get into fall, and there’s less sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere each day, chlorophyll begins to break down.

When that happens, the green pigment fades, and other pigments become visible. Those other pigments give leaves their yellow and orange hues.

Even cooler air will bring out that fire-engine red color. The lower temperatures help to bring out pigments in certain leaves called anthocyanins, which have a bright red color. 

Meanwhile, SmokyMountains.com has released its annual Fall Foliage Map that predicts best times to see the most vibrant colors not only in Tennessee, but also, across the country.

Smoky Mountains 2021 Fall Foliage Prediction Map. Visit this link to try out the interactive map.

When you snap photos of the gorgeous fall colors, don’t forget to send them to News 2 at pix@wkrn.com. Your photos may be featured on our shows and WKRN.com

Ever wonder what makes hail? Or how lightning gets formed? The News 2 Weather Authority is here to help! Find those answers and more at the Weather Authority University!

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