Have the fall colors been disappointing this year?

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Dear Tom,

Is it me, or have the fall colors been disappointing this year?

Sharon Tamura,
Chicago

Dear Sharon,
Autumn tree foliage in the Chicago area, usually spectacular when reaching its colorful peak toward the end of October, has been somewhat of a disappointment this year, and the weather is to blame: the very warm and intensely dry conditions that prevailed across the region in September and, with the exception of heavy rain on Oct. 14, the first three weeks of October.

Drought conditions caused many trees, especially maples, to shed their leaves in early and mid October in order to conserve water. Very warm weather (temperatures frequently in the 80s and 90s into early October and 70s through mid October) caused other trees to delay color change to the end of the month. All in all, a sub-normal color season.