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Monday 15 September 2014

Weather conditions perfect for a spectacular autumn

This week's forecast means we should be able to look forward to a spectacular display of autumn foliage

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

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Fall Colors
Autumn (Stock photo)
Autumn leaves in the Phoenix Park yesterday.
Pic Steve Humphreys
19th November 2013.
Deer gather in Dublin's Phoenix Park. (Photo: Steve Humphreys)
Pratima Nana enjoying the good weather in St. Stephens Green, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Pratima Nana enjoying the good weather in St. Stephens Green, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Summer may be officially over but nature-lovers can take heart as favourable weather conditions forecast for this week means we should be able to look forward to a spectacular display of autumn foliage to rival Canada and New England in the coming weeks.

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As long as we aren't plagued with strong winds, heavy rain or extensive clouds, conditions are now ripe for leaves to die out in a blaze of glory, according to the director of the National Botanic Gardens, Matthew Jebb.

And so far, the weather appears to be co-operating.

We won't have wall-to-wall sunshine this week but there will be sunny periods with temperatures above normal for this time of year, hovering between 16 and 20 Celsius, said Met Eireann forecaster Joan Blackburn.

Overnight temperatures are not expected to drop below 7C or 8C and there is no major rain or wind on the way apart from some breezier conditions and light rain forecast for the weekend, she said.

These are perfect conditions for a slow move into autumn that will lend itself to a colourful display of nature.

Ireland is home to an array of deciduous trees like willow, poplar and sycamore that will produce vibrant displays of yellow and orange as well as the odd smattering of red from imported red maples, Mr Jebb said.

And the sheer volume of leaves on the trees this year will be on par with last autumn following two consecutive summers with perfect growing conditions.

The only caveat is that the weather will have to continue co-operating.

Warm, sunny days and cool nights dipping no lower than 5C-6C are ideal conditions for "colouring up", while strong wind and rain will strip trees of their leaves and frost will kill leaves outright.

"The critical issue is clear blue skies," Mr Jebb told the Irish Independent.

"It's the length of daylight that's critical. If we have these blue sunny days like we had last year, it will encourage leaves to have their final glory days."

Sunshine is crucial for the red, yellow and orange pigments of leaves to shine through as the dominant green pigment, chlorophyll, declines in the autumn, he explained.

And the fact that leaves are still green even though we are technically now into autumn is a good sign.

The longer that summer-like conditions prevail the better for the intensity of colour, he added.

"We're right at the cusp. In the next fortnight we'll start to see the first signs of colouring," he said.

Irish Independent

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