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Leaves Changing Colors Early in Central Ohio

COLUMBUS (Terri Sullivan/Ken Hines) -- Changing leaves are combining with cooler-than-average temperatures to bring an autumn-like feel to central Ohio.

Leaves have started to change colors on many central Ohio trees in August, due at least in part to heavy rainfall and relatively low temperatures.

The color changes are not a sign that autumn is arriving early in 2013, but rather that trees are preparing to shed leaves in order to conserve energy, according to OSU Extension Office forestry specialist Kathy Smith.

"Some trees may be sitting in a wetter site than normal, and it's just their way to compensate and protect themselves," Smith said.

The recent cool, wet weather stands in stark contrast to Summer, 2012, when central Ohio plants suffered from a lack of water -- though their effects on trees are similar.

"Last year, with the drought, you had some trees that were stressed and probably had root damage," Smith said. "This year, we've had excessive moisture, and too much moisture is the same as not enough."

Although the cause of the early change to the area's foliage can be explained, Smith cautions against making assumptions about the coming autumn.

"Mother nature always has the last laugh," she said. "We think we know what's going on, but she plays the game and laughs at us when we try to figure out what she's doing."
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