LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Fall is here and even though temperatures are mild, it’s starting to look more like fall across central Arkansas.

Leaves changing this early in October is way ahead of schedule for Arkansas. On average, the peak fall foliage in central Arkansas is early November and late October for Northern Arkansas.

During an average year, the leaves will change colors when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop to near freezing at night. This year the leaves are changing for a completely different reason. We are seeing early fall colors caused by severe drought conditions.

Over the last two months, northern and central Arkansas has been extremely dry. Little Rock and Pine Bluff are about four inches of rain below normal for August and September. Cities across the north are around two inches below average for the past two months. Southern Arkansas received very heavy rain in August, so they are not in a drought yet.

These drought conditions are not great for bright fall colors. The trees that have already changed are a light orange or brown color. It is unlikely we will see widespread bright reds and oranges this fall.

These pictures were taken Oct, 3 at Burns Park in North Little Rock. The first and second image shows the dim oranges and browns the leaves changed to. This will be a common sight across most of Arkansas this fall.

– Meteorologist Alex Libby

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