What you need to know for fall 2023

Tips on how to stay safe during fall, why leaves change and more.
Autumn has officially started in September with plenty of changes in the air. (Source: Pixabay)
Autumn has officially started in September with plenty of changes in the air. (Source: Pixabay)((Source: Pixabay))
Published: Nov. 2, 2023 at 1:30 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2023 at 1:52 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Autumn has officially started in September with plenty of changes in the air.

The biggest change that we notice is the change of leaves across the region. Where does it all begin? It starts at the cellular level of the plant which has many chemical compounds that include the main player known as Chlorophyll along with others like carotenoids and anthocyanins that are present within the plant at all times. These other compounds help produce the colors that we see during the fall.

However, during the spring and summer months, Chlorophyll is the most abundant as it helps trees and plants turn sunlight into glucose, which helps to feed the plant. This saturation of Chlorophyll in the leaves of trees and plants helps to give the green appearance that we see during other seasons. Without this over-saturation of Chlorophyll, the other colors that we see during the autumn months would be present all year round.

Which compound produces certain fall colors?

  • Orange, yellow and brown- Carotene is the most common compound and is found in most leaves. This compound absorbs blue and green light and reflects the reds and yellows to create its orange color. Other objects that receive their color from the carotene compound are corn, carrots, and bananas.
  • Red - Anthocyanins is the next compound. This actually increases in production over the autumn months to allow for a longer lifespan on the tree and produces the beautiful red coloring that we see. Other things that receive their color from the anthocyanin compound are cranberries, cherries, strawberries, and plums.

Why do trees shed their leaves? The short answer lies in the art of protection. The tree sheds its leaves to protect against the harsh temperatures that the winter could bring. If the vegetation remains and freezes, then this would damage and possibly kill the tree.

For us to receive the brightest colors, we needed a dry summer and autumn with sunny days and cool nights. The forecast for Southwest Georgia shows that we will see the peak of our fall foliage occur sometime during the middle to end of November.

As we move deeper into the fall season, it’s important for people to know how to safely navigate season-specific dangers like fallen leaves.

AAA has tips for how to safely drive on roads with fallen leaves. It is best to approach fallen leaves on the road the same way you would with water on the road.

When drivers approach fallen leaves on the roads these are some of the precautions that should be taken:

  • Slow down and increase your distance from other cars when driving on fallen leaves.
  • Don’t panic if you skid on fallen leaves, take your foot off the gas and turn the wheel in the direction you want to go.
  • Be aware of potholes that might be hidden under leaves.
  • Don’t drive over piles of leaves because children and pets may be in piles of leaves.
  • Don’t park on dry leaves because the heat of your exhaust or the catalytic converter may cause a fire.

Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) public information officer Meghan Barwick gives more tips on how people can stay safe during the fall season.