2017-10-19 / Front Page

Color season takes its sweet time

But that’s just fine
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


LEELANAU COUNTY received a rainbow with no rain Monday morning, finally providing some fall color. Trees are just now starting to turn across the county. LEELANAU COUNTY received a rainbow with no rain Monday morning, finally providing some fall color. Trees are just now starting to turn across the county. Unseasonably mild temperatures have delayed the fall color season yet another week, with low to moderate color reported in the entirety of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Included is the Leelanau Peninsula, where leaf peeping has been kind of hit and miss to date.

“I’ve had a lot of calls this week from people asking about the colors,” said Scott Koehler, owner of The Whaleback Inn, south of Leland. “I tell them, some trees are turning, but along the lake … not so much.”

Visitors at local wineries have also remarked about the delayed arrival of colors.

“We have had people come in and remark about little color we have,” said Jenn Bourgeault, tasting room manager at Blustone Vineyards and Winery, near Lake Leelanau.

As with so many things, Leelanau color is all about location, location, location.

The warm waters of Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay surrounding Leelanau County buffer the county from cool fall temperatures that trigger the arrival of the fall color season.

In a typical year, that puts the county about a week behind communities inland, such as Gaylord, in terms of color change.

But this year even the Alpine town has been impacted.

“The warm temperatures in September have really put color behind schedule,” National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Gillen said. “We need those cool nights to get the color going and we just haven’t had that.”

Mother Nature took her old sweet time last summer, waiting until September to bring the warmest days of the year.

According to readings kept at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center in Bingham Townhsip, temperatures rose to 92 degrees on Sept. 23 and 25, and to 90 degrees on Sept. 24 and 26. In fact, the thermometer topped 80 degrees for seven straight days during the stretch, and never fell below 61 degrees.

That made up for lost beach time, as for most of the summer temps were cool and there was a healthy amount of precipitation.

By this time last year, Leelanau County was listed as having high color and Gaylord was at peak color. Likewise, moderate leaf drop had been recorded, according to foliagenetwork.com.

This week, low color was reported in the Lower Peninsula with peak colors confined to the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

Low leaf drop has been reported locally, which could bode well for those hoping to take in the shades of yellow, orange and scarlets right into November.

The National Weather Service calls for unseasonably warm temperatures to continue for the next 10 days to two weeks, further extending fall color season.

“You’ll still have colors, but it could be a shorter season,” Gillen said.

Highs in the mid-to-upper 60s are forecast through Saturday. Unseasonably warm, yet more moderate highs in the low-to-mid 60s are expected to prevail through the weekend into next week.

Sunny skies and windy conditions with no precipitation are expected to prevail through Saturday with the first chance of rain Saturday night.

“I think this weekend will be big for leaf-peepers up her,” Bourgeault said.

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