Is autumn being delayed because of climate change?

Weather Blog

How did Sept. 22 become the official first day of fall? Why is it called fall? And why are pumpkins such a big thing this time of year? (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

(KXAN) — It’s often joked about that Central Texas experiences a “false fall.” This is jabbing at that first cold front that drops our temperatures and gives us a taste of fall in the middle of September before yet another warm up occurs sometime early in October, making it feel like summer again before “actual” fall-like weather arrives closer to Halloween.

By this time, though, the fall season would have started over a month prior. So, what gives?

Well, as you may have guessed, our changing climate is likely to blame.

Research from Climate Central shows that of 244 cities studied, 83% (or about 200) of them saw increases in overnight temperatures during the fall season over the past 50 years. Austin was one of them.

Image courtesy of Climate Central

You might cheer at this notion of a “longer summer.” But many things from longer agricultural growing seasons, to longer mosquito (and thus mosquito-borne illnesses) and other insect seasons, as well as longer allergy seasons have been tied to delayed autumns.

As a matter of fact, ragweed season, the pollen known for causing “hay fever” symptoms, is lasting longer. According to AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy and Asthma Immunology) the season usually starts in mid-August and would last for about a month. But because summer-like conditions are lasting longer, ragweed, which thrives in hot, dry weather, is lasting through October and even into November! Ragweed dies after the first freeze.

Mosquitoes also thrive in warm, wet conditions. And when we have rain events coupled with warmer temperatures lasting longer into the fall, this makes for ideal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive.

Delayed autumn weather also affects fall foliage. Nearly every tree responds to the change from summer to fall differently. But in general, warmer weather can delay the changing of leaves as well as cut the season shorter as well.

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