PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The recent stretch of cool weather in Central Illinois gave us a taste of fall for a few days, and while these cooler temperatures are not expected to stick around long, it is a reminder that fall is certainly on the way. While not everyone is in love with the idea of summer coming to an end, most can appreciate the beauty that comes with the changing foliage.

Why do leaves change color?

Many people believe that the changing colors are the result of colder temperatures, but that’s not the case. Instead, it is due to the change in seasons and shorter days. With less sunlight, Photosynthesis (the process that uses sunlight and water to create glucose) cannot occur and the green Chlorophyll disappears. Once the Chlorophyll is gone, other pigments called xanthophylls and carotenoids become visible, allowing leaves to turn red, orange, and yellow. 

When will they peak?

Based on data from The Foliage Report peak foliage typically comes in mid to late October for Central Illinois. If you’re planning a trip out of Central Illinois the upper Midwest typically sees the foliage peak from late September through early October while the Appalachians experience peak foliage throughout the month of October, starting in the north early in the month and gradually changing further south throughout the month.

The exact timing will heavily depend on the weather. The quality of the fall foliage displayed across the country depends highly on temperatures and sunlight. Sunny and warm days followed by cool, frost-less nights typically lead to the best displays of fall colors while a good storm that brings soaking rain and strong winds can make for a less than stunning display.

This interactive foliage map from smokymountains.com predicts that our foliage will peak towards the end of October.