Fall colors near peak in central NC this week

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Fall colors are almost at their peak in central North Carolina.

For the week of Nov. 8, the majority of Wake County is in “near peak” territory along with Durham and Orange counties.

The wide swath of “near peak” areas stretches all the way down to Charlotte and up to a section of Halifax County.

“Color really starting to pop around central North Carolina, but we are past peak in the mountains. Lots of leaf raking in our future I fear!” CBS 17 Chief Meteorologist Wes Hohenstein said.

Why do the leaves change color?

The long answer is tied to something called chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is found within cells of all plants, including leaves, and plays an important role in photosynthesis, which keeps plants alive.

The chlorophyll absorbs sunlight which gives the plant, or in this case leaf, the energy it will then use to break down carbon dioxide and water into food.

This happens most often during the spring and summer months, leaving the leaves bright and green.

While we see the green more vibrantly, there are other pigments within the leaves, the green is simply outshining the other colors.

During the fall as the temperatures cool and the days have less sunlight, the chlorophyll is not creating as much food for the plant and starts to break down.

As it breaks down, the green pigment fades away leaving behind the yellow, orange, and red we so often associate with fall foliage.

The color of the leaves depends on the type of tree.

In North Carolina, our variety of trees gives us an amazing array of colors as the leaves change.

North Carolina’s weather so far has been cooperating as well.

Cooler nights, sunny days, and occasional bouts of rain will translate to vibrant colors.

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