Why experts say fall foliage will be especially vibrant this year
Posted August 31
Updated September 7
Each year, trees around the U.S. put on a stunning show as their leaves change color. Lots of time and research goes into predicting the best time and place for the perfect leaf-viewing experience. People want to catch the leaves at their peak color, after all.
So, what do the trees have in store for us this year? Rich shades of red, orange and yellow! Experts say we should prepare ourselves for some particularly spectacular fall colors this season.
Because the weather was favorable across the U.S. over the summer, it primed the leaves to turn especially vibrant colors this year. Most areas of the country saw an average amount of rainfall over the summer. If there’s an overly wet or dry season, the leaves’ colors can’t reach peak color.
Also, last summer, the Northeast suffered massive foliage loss due to a caterpillar overpopulation. The caterpillars ate the leaves of the drought-affected trees, leaving large numbers of them bare for the fall. Fortunately, that didn’t happen again this year, so trees are healthier for the autumnal show.
Recent rains may bring the foliage color out a little earlier this year. However, forecasters believe warmer overall temperatures will help keep the colorful leaves around longer.
So, what can you expect in your neck of the woods this fall as far as foliage color? Here’s a regional breakdown of leaf color intensity predicted by experts.
Northeast: Best Fall Foliage In Years
The Northeastern United States has an entire tourist industry built around the fall foliage. This year, forecasters have great news for residents and visitors looking forward to leaf peeping. Jim Salge, who tracks foliage in the region for Yankee Magazine said he anticipates a “strong and vibrant display” in the Northeast this autmun.
“It’s the most optimistic forecast I’ve had in a couple of years,” Salge told WBUR.
The conditions are optimal for a colorful display of foliage this year, according to Yankee Magazine’s forecast: “The forest appears generally healthy and leaf development has been normal. The upshot: In New England, normal fall colors are expected to be spectacular.”
South: Rains Will Help Fall Foliage
Down in states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, the abundant summer rainfall and warm temperatures look to be setting up “perfect conditions for vibrant fall colors across the mountains,” according to WBIR. Peak colors are expected to show up in early October, which is earlier than previous years. The cooler temperatures, like the area has seen over the past few weeks, bring out the leaf colors a little earlier. But they also help make them brighter.
West: Select Spots Will See Beautiful Colors
While the Northeast’s leaves get top billing, don’t forget about the West and Southwest! Reader’s Digest listed Taos, New Mexico, as one of its top fall foliage destinations. This year’s anticipated magnificent colors promise fabulous autumn drives through the area’s forests and mountains. Late October and early November are when colors are at their most saturated in the area.