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.