Fleeting fall splendor

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Al Key/DRC
Cars drive down Old Alton Road in southern Denton County as the leaves change colors with cooler weather approaching Tuesday.
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Cold front could spell end to trees’ brilliant colors

Fall foliage is at its peak in Denton County, but you’d better enjoy it while you can.

The recent wet weather, cold snap and warm, sunny days have left a burst of orange, gold and red leaves throughout the Denton area, among the best displays in recent years.

But a blustery cold front that is expected to move into the area later this week could send the color scattering.

“That’s just our Texas weather,” said Pete Smith, urban forestry program manager for the Texas A&M Forest Service. “If we get a hard wind and hard rain all at once, then they could hit the ground all at once.

“And then it’s winter.”

Among the flashiest in the local arbor are the deep reds of ornamental pears, oranges and reds of the Chinese pistache, and the various elms, which can range from yellow to gold, Smith said.

The native ash tree can go from gold to orange, he said.

“They almost glow,” Smith said. “At sunset I find those to be spectacular.”

The yellow colors emerge with the disappearance of chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. The sugars left behind in the leaves help produce the other colors, experts said.

Local officials say it’s hard to gauge if this year is among the best, but they all agree that it’s certainly a brilliant year for foliage.

“I wonder the same thing every year,” said Courtney Blevins, a regional urban forester with the forest service in Fort Worth. “It seems like it just popped up overnight. The onset of the colors may have been a little sudden, but I don’t think the coloring is any more dramatic.”

Janet Laminack, with the Denton office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Office, said the yellow hues are particularly bright this year.

“I feel like every year we get excited about how much color we have,” she said. “I feel like there’s a lot of years where we say, ‘It’s prettier than I remember.’”

But with the cold front expected to bring gusty winds and temperatures into the 30s by Friday, Laminack says it’s time to see the fall colors.

“There’s no time like the present,” she said.

DIANNA HUNT can be reached at 940-566-7884 and via Twitter at @diannahunt.



Cold weather is on the way for the weekend.

A cold front is expected to move through Denton County in the early morning hours on Friday, pushing temperatures into the 30s by midday with north winds of up to 20 to 30 miles per hour, according to National Weather Service senior meteorologist Eric Martello in Fort Worth.

There’s also a chance for cold rain Friday into Saturday, he said.

“The front really crashes through during the day Friday,” Martello said. “It’s going to be pretty chilly through the weekend.”

— Dianna Hunt

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