Autumns mix of colors: Why it happens and more

Fall tends to be a favorite season for Midwest residents thanks to its crisp temperatures and wide variety of colors. Leaves go from green to shades of yellow, orange and red in a matter of weeks, but what causes this?

As many of you know, the four seasons have different temperatures and types of weather. Spring and summer are warm seasons with sunshine, while fall and winter are cool, cold and full of gray skies. This cooldown and lack of sunshine is the reason the leaves and grass change color in the fall.

Leaves and grass both contain a pigment called chlorophyll that gives off a green color. During the warm seasons, chlorophyll takes in the energy from sunlight and turns it into food for the plant to stay alive. But as we head into fall, the northern hemisphere starts to lose daylight and nights become longer. This shortage of sunlight results in food production to come to a halt as chlorophyll is no longer absorbing as much energy. Leftover chlorophyll is then broken down and the green soon becomes overshadowed by numerous other colors present in the leaf.



The length of time we get to enjoy the colorful landscape can change depending on the weather each year. Cloud coverage, rain and warm temperatures in the fall often result in less coloration, while direct sunlight and cool nights provide perfect conditions for colorful leaves. Other factors that impact the fall colors include droughts and frost. Droughts often cause leaves to change color earlier than normal and an early frost can completely ruin the chance for leaves to change color at all.


Nebraska typically experiences its peak in fall foliage around late October, but many places are already starting to see fall colors. So grab your phone and start taking pictures! You can share them with us by going to our Channel 8 app or emailing them to

Meteorologist Brittany Foster





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