Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This isn't Autumn

The yellow color you can see in this photo was taken on Sunday morning. The yellow is not from an early fall color change. This same scene is repeated all around Roundtop and beyond right now. On the top of the hill next to Roundtop, perhaps 40% of the mountain is yellow, so that it does look like fall, but it’s not. The color change is caused by dry weather.

Until August 1, this area was having a normal year for precipitation and was perhaps even a tiny bit ahead of normal. Since August 1, I haven’t had a drop of rain, and this yellowing of the surrounding forest is the result. Every day as I drive home, more trees are turning yellow and withering. August has not been hot, hazy or humid, but it sure has been dry.

I’ve never seen yellowing like this before, and I’ve certainly never seen it in August at all. I do remember several dry years when I have seen some level of yellowing in the second week of September, when a little breeze brought down all those withered leaves and made it look like late autumn for an hour or so. I’ve never seen yellowing from dry weather to this extent. And late August is a long way yet from the second week of September.

As you can see from the photo, it’s not just the trees that are yellowing, but the forest understory too. Grass crunches underneath my footfall and disintegrates. This morning I smelled wood smoke and nearly had a panic until I realized it was coming from a neighbor’s fireplace--last night was under 50 degrees on the mountain.

Rain has occasionally been in the forecast during August and is in the forecast even now, but each time, the chance has evaporated before the day arrives. Even now, the precipitation chance is no higher than 30-40%--hardly enough to start a countdown or breath a sigh of relief that an end to the dryness is at hand. But I hope this time, the rain will come.


Ruth said...

Hope you get some rain from the hurricanes. Our farmers are praying for 2 weeks of no rain so decrease rot and mold in the crops.

Cathy said...

Interesting and sad too. Maybe with the left rain from Fay might help a little. Grant it sounds you need a good rainy day to help.

The weather has been strange for August. Where's the dog days of August? Normal I should have the fan on, trying to keep cool. Instead I have the windows closed and my feet are chilly.

As for rain, had enough to keep everything green and nice. Plus create a nice selection of mushrooms too. And now,some of my leaves are starting to turn.

Hopefully you don't start losing trees becuase of this.

Carolyn H said...

Ruth: a little hurricane rain isn't out of the question, though it sure is taking it's good, sweet time getting here.

Cathy: I hope I don't start losing trees, too. The forest on the hill next to Roundtop is a good 70% yellow. I've tried to get a photo, but stopping in the middle of the road on a curve isn't really a good thing.

Carolyn H.

Dana Jones said...

Hi Carolyn. We're having some problems with what looks like heat distress, but according to a local arborist, it is actually the opposite. Too much spring rain caused root damage, and so now our trees are having difficulty drawing up enough water.

I hope your trees are only temporarily distressed and will return next year.