By Bob Gross
Michigan is known for its stands of hardwood trees that turn fall into a blaze of color.
There’s only a limited time, however, to get out and enjoy the rich reds, yellows and oranges of autumn.
According to Pure Michigan, the curtain is falling on the seasonal color show in northern Michigan, but there are a few weeks left in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula.
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Southeast Michigan is about two weeks away from peak fall colors, according to Pure Michigan, but rain and wind could have a say in what you see.
Alex Manion, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Oakland County, said a cold front is moving into the area, bringing falling temperatures, gusty winds and rain with the possibility of snow.
“We are looking at highs in the 40s for Wednesday and again on Thursday for most of the day,” Manion said. “We have the potential to creep up into the 50s (on Thursday).
“Friday, we are firmly stuck in the mid to low-40s for a high through the weekend and early into next week.”
Low temperatures will roller coaster from the mid-30s on Wednesday to the lower 40s on Thursday. Friday’s low drops into the 20s. Lows Saturday and Sunday will be in the upper 20s.
The area could be looking at the first hard frost of fall.
“The coldest temperatures for the fall were 37 degrees on Oct. 25, and 36 degrees on Oct. 18 and 19,” Manion said. “We have not gone below the freezing mark officially.
“It has dipped below the freezing mark a few times recently farther north,” he said, “The Thumb was down into the 20s a few days ago.”
He said there is a chance of rain on Wednesday and again on Thursday. The rain could turn to snow toward Friday morning, but the ground is too warm for it to stick, Manion said.
Wind gusts Friday of up to 50 mph could strip some of the leaves from the tree and cause big waves on Lake Huron.
The colors that produce the annual show are always present in the leaves, according to experts, but only become visible when the leaves stop producing green chlorophyll.
The colors are triggered by seasonal changes including amount of daylight, Manion said.
“It’s kind of two parts there,” he said. “The sun angle is a factor in that and so is the cold. “
He said the colder temperatures and blustery wind will have an effect on the leaves, so now is a good time to catch the color show before it ends for the year.
In the Blue Water Area, a hike along the Wadhams to Avoca Trail will provide lots of fall color, plus take walkers and cyclists above the canopy where the path crosses Mill Creek on a 640-foot long trestle that soars 60 feet above the valley floor.
One of the more scenic drives in the area is along M-136 through the Beards Hills area. The road winds down to the Black River through a corridor of trees.
The Pine River Nature Center on Castor Road in Goodells also offers walking trails lined with colorful maples and oaks.
Pure Michigan offers a 195-mile long color tour that starts at Belle Isle and runs northeast along Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River though Algonac, Marine City, St. Clair, Marysville and Port Huron. Visit https://www.michigan.org/article/road-trip/detroit-algonac-lake-orion-port-huron for more details.
Find out more about fall colors in Michigan at Find Your Pure Michigan Fall Filter: Experience the Season.
Bob Gross has been a journalist for 40 years in Michigan and Wyoming. He has covered subjects ranging from agriculture to zoology. He most recently covered courts and police for the Port Huron Times Herald.