In spite of summer-like temperatures this week, cooler temperatures, shorter days and colorful foliage are on the way. Autumn officially arrives on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 4:44 p.m. to be exact, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.
Astronomically speaking—since it can also be measured methodologically—the seasons begin with either an equinox in the fall and spring, or with a solstice in the summer and winter. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, Sunday the sun will rise and set on the celestial equator. In other words, the sun will rise exactly due east and set due west.
Although the days will get shorter with earlier sunsets, daylight saving time won't turn clocks back an hour until Nov. 3 at 2 a.m.
In Maryland, one of the most obvious signs of fall is the changing colors of the trees. So where do the colors come from?
Shorter days alert the trees to prepare for winter, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They begin to shut down and the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves, bringing out the yellow and orange colors we associate with the season.
The bright reds and purples seen in some species – maples, for example – are the result of glucose getting trapped in the leaves, and the shorter days and the cooler nights turn it a vivid scarlet color. The brown color seen in oaks is a consequence of waste products being left in the leaves, according to DNR.
Maryland DNR Forest Ranger Beth Sanders said that leaves will start to change after the first hard frost.
"I've already seen some Poplars starting to turn, a little bit in the Walnuts," Sanders told Patch. "But you won't see the Oaks turning 'til after a hard frost."
Sanders said that the peak times change each year because when trees turn depends on temperature and moisture levels.
"We're in a little dry spell right now so many times that means the leaves won't be as colorful," Sanders said.
Want to know the best places to see the beautiful colors of fall? Check out the DNR Fall Foliage and Festival Hotline to see where tree colors are peaking and what park festivals are taking place around the state.