We're Going to Have to Wait Longer for Fall Color This Year
One of the most breathtaking natural wonders we can experience is the annual fall foliage display that millions of trees across America treat us to. Unfortunately, experts predict that peak leaf-peeping season will be delayed this year.
We've noticed a few trees around town already starting to turn color, and perhaps you've seen hints of fall color in your neck of the woods as well. But before you dig out your cozy sweaters for a leaf-watching road trip, take a look at the fall foliage forecast for 2019. According to AccuWeather, we should expect a delay—in Northeastern states especially—due to warm weather predicted for September. Air temperatures are an important factor that impacts fall leaf color, but precipitation amounts also play a big part. So, lucky for us, when the leaves do change, colors should be especially vibrant, thanks to all the rain we've had this year.
SmokyMountains.com, a Smoky Mountains tourism site, created an interactive map to determine peak fall colors across the United States by county. The best color is represented by cherry red, but often the in-between phase of fall foliage is just as beautiful as the full transition.
This color-changing map is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) on historical temperatures, precipitation, and forecasts. SmokyMountains.com plugs this data into an algorithm that factors in the elements of meteorology—temperature, moisture, sunlight, and precipitation—that impact peak fall color. Although there is no way to predict with 100 percent accuracy what nature will do, the data collected each year helps to make this map the best prediction possible.
According to this year's prediction, peak fall foliage will likely happen sometime in October for most of North America. Here are the predicted ranges of time when you'll see fall color this year by region.
Northeast: Late September through mid-October. Parts of Virginia may not see peak color until early November but going north from there, the leaves should be most brilliant around mid-October.
Midwest: Early October through early November. The upper parts of this region like Northern Minnesota will see fall color in early October. Other Midwestern states like Iowa and Illinois won't see peak until the end of October or early November.
West: Early October through early November. Mountainous areas in Colorado and Montana will see fall color earlier than coastal areas of Washington and Oregon, which peak in mid-October.
South: Mid November through late November. Tennessee and the Carolinas may begin seeing peak color in early November, while Texas, Alabama, and Georgia may not get peak fall color until Thanksgiving weekend.
Trees With the Most Colorful Fall Foliage
When your local trees start turning color, you may notice some have more fiery hues than others. For example, you can almost always count on maples to put on a dazzling show, especially sugar and red maples, which are native to much of Eastern and Central North America. No wonder they are honored as the state tree of New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Rhode Island!
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a number of other deciduous tree species also produce traffic-stopping autumnal displays across different regions of the United States. For example, in southern regions, keep an eye out for sourwood and sweetgum trees, which turn vivid shades of red, yellow, and purple. Across the Rocky Mountains, aspens light up the landscape with their golden leaves.
While the fall foliage colors are present in leaves the entire growing season, they wait until the weather starts to turn crisp before they show through, and the green pigment known as chlorophyll fades. Although we'll need to wait a little longer this year for that to happen, we can't wait to see the amazing fall colors across the landscape.