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Despite recent warm-up, peak leaf viewing not here just yet

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The leaves in the Alpena are beginning to change, but it is several weeks from the fall foliage peak. Some trees, like this one near Long Rapids Road, already have their autumn colors on full display.

The afternoon sunshine and cool overnight temperatures have been the key ingredients to spurring the recent color of the leaves in Northeast Michigan.

A brief warm-up in temperatures on the horizon will delay the peak leaf viewing however, at least for a few weeks.

According to the National Weather Service Meteorologist- Gaylord Sabrina Jauernic said currently the fall colors on the trees are spotty, but beginning to increase. She said the recent sunshine during the day, and near freezing temperatures at night and early morning has spurred some trees to begin to change color, but current forecasts could lead to the change to stall.

We are still in the early stages of the change,” she said. “The sun has been a good thing, but overall, the temperatures have not been the best. When you look out a week to 10 days, I think we are still at least two or three weeks until we hit our peak color. ”

Each fall, the County Road Association of Michigan releases recommendations on routes people can travel to enjoy the multitude of colors.

In Alpena County, motorists are urged to travel on Bolton Road to Long Lake Road, Nicholson Hill Road, Scott Road, and Long Rapids Road.

In Presque Isle County, residents and visitors can drive down Long Lake Highway from M-65 into Alpena County, and West 638 Highway Ocqueoc Road from Walker Highway to North Allis Highway from Ocqueoc Road west to M-211.

In Montmorency County, it is suggested drivers travel on Pleasant Valley Road, Farrier Road, Carter Road, and Meridian Line Road to view the trees in the coming weeks.

In a press release, Road Association Executive Director Denise Donahue said most people in northern Michigan don’t have to travel far from home to appreciate autumn’s beauty.

“Taking a fall color tour down a county road is a great way to spend an afternoon during this unprecedented time,” she said in the release. “Michigan’s colors are among the best in the country, making fall the perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy the state’s natural beauty.”

Leaves change color when they begin to reduce the amount of chlorophyll and the veins that run through them restrict how much of the chemical runs through the leaf. This causes the leaf to change color, eventually die and fall off the tree.

According to the National Weather Service, the leaves should be ripe for viewing from Sept. 28 through Oct. 14 or later.

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