It’s clear that fall is nearly upon us. Labor Day has passed, pumpkin spice everything is back, and we’re losing daylight.
For some, the leaves may have already started changing color. For others, it won’t be long until the trees combust into reds, yellows, oranges, and browns.
In just a few weeks, some parts of the country will be seeing peak fall colors, according to a new prediction map.
SmokyMountains.com, a travel brand dedicated to promoting the Smoky Mountain region, produces a fall foliage map every year, show when areas in the U.S. will near, reach, and surpass peak colors. They use historical temperature and precipitation data, forecasted temperature and precipitation, the types of trees known to be in the area, and user-reported information to develop their fall foliage forecast. While it may not be completely accurate, it does offer insight into how soon the autumn colors will peak.
As of September 7, only a handful of areas, primarily in the northern U.S., are seeing leaves changing. That is expected to change going into the week of September 11 when the majority of New England and Michigan should begin to see the leaves change.
It won’t be until mid-October that the majority of the trees in the U.S. will be at or near peak, according to SmokyMountains.com’s analysis.
You can see the interactive map below, courtesy of SmokyMountains.com.
There are multiple factors that can influence when the leaves change color. Largely, it’s the length of day, Brad Hutnik, a forest ecologist/silviculturist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources told Nexstar.
We’ve been slowly losing daylight since the summer solstice in mid-June, and it will only become more noticeable as we move through September. Our trees are tuned into that lack of light and will begin to wind down for the year.
“Oftentimes, by the time we’re seeing the leaves on the trees, that tree is functionally shut down for the year, and those leaves are essentially just dying off,” Hutnik says. By late September, many trees will have fully shut down.
Enjoy the leaves while you can — by late October and early November, the fall foliage will be past peak in most areas of the country.