Drought, heavy rains affect northeastern Ohio's trees as they change color

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - It's the peak fall color time in northeast Ohio and even in the rain, the trees and fall colors are vibrant.

First grade teacher Katelyn Coliha had her class from Messiah Lutheran out in the cool, fresh air of Lake County's Holden Arboretum on Wednesday with a purpose.

"Something you don't always see through technology on a computer screen. It's great to come out here in nature and experience it firsthand," Coliha said. "To identify the types of plants and trees, to see what nature and the seasons are and how they change through that process."

But the leaves changed colors at a different time this year, in part because of the summer's record drought.

"Some trees got a double whammy or a lot of rain one year and then drought the next year," said Holden Arboretum information services manager Marian Williams.

"So in order to protect themselves, they shut down early and when the day length starts to shorten and the temperatures start to cool down, this creates a situation that stimulates the trees to stop producing chlorophyll," Williams said. "So then all the beautiful colors start to come out."

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