Did you notice the leaves downtown are not changing colors yet? Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Like most of us, you may be wondering – why aren’t the leaves all red and gold yet? They are but a little slower this year

Trees do start changing in late September but fall leaf colors don’t peak until mid-October an early November for Chicago as well as the rest of northern Illinois according to the National Weather Service.

According to the University of Illinois extension office, poison ivy and sumac go first and weeping willow and larch leaves will be the last to transform in November.

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Fall sees the days growing shorter meaning there is less sunlight and leaves aren’t able to produce as much chlorophyll to stay green and healthy – according to the extension office. The cooler temperatures can also help break down chlorophyll in the leaves.

According to the travel blog, TripSavvy – Illinois leaves are mostly yellow and red. You may see purple-red color in dogwoods, red and russet in oak tree leaves and golden and bronze hues from hickories, among other colors.

The more breathtaking colors come when there are warm, sunny days, light winds and cooler nights – said Kevin Donofrio – a National Weather Service meteorologist.

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“We were having really nice color then, at least for the leaves that were changing then,” Donofrio said. “Those days where you have sunny days and cool nights really promote really good color.”

The weather seems to be sticking as the days have been warmer and there have yet to be any hard frosts – which can make leaves turn dark brown or black – falling from the trees.


The moisture can “mute” colors as well, which means there’s at least one plus to the unusually dry, rain-free weeks Chicago has had lately: The leaves might end up being prettier.

“Some of those early trees had some nice color,” Donofrio said.

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