SPOKANE, Wash. — The fall foliage is starting to come alive in Spokane and all across the Inland Northwest. With colder weather on the way for mid-October, the peak of colors will be arriving soon.
In Spokane, the average time frame for peak fall colors is about the second week of October. In North Idaho, it's usually the first week of October to see the best fall colors. The primary driving factor there is those weeks are shortly after the usual first freeze of the season. Cold temperatures that night are the main signal to the trees that it's time to go through that transition towards the dormant winter months.
The forecast is that Spokane will be getting its first freeze of the season this Thursday or Friday, Oct. 7-8. That means we are right on cue for fall colors the following week.
Tree leaves change colors because the chlorophyll in the leaves, which reflects green light, dies first. But sugar and pigments underneath are still present. Those pigments are what display the reds, oranges, yellows, and purples.
Weather factors can play a roll with how vibrant those colors can appear and how syncronized the colors can be displayed. The most ideal conditions for the best fall colors is to have sharp cold nights with bright sunny days. That keeps as much sugar in the plants as long as possible while also getting the trees to change colors at the same time.
But drought conditions like those we have experienced this year can dull colors in some trees. That means you may see some tan and brown leaves in some trees that were drought-stricken.
If you have great fall pictures that you want to share with us, be sure to text them to 509-448-2000 or use the Near Me feature on our KREM 2 app.