September means fall is just around the corner. Here in Central Florida, most of the “autumn” we see is in the form of decorations at the theme parks. But in other parts of the country, the brilliance of the changing leaves is something people look forward to seeing every year.
Due to COVID, more people are doing shorter getaways this year, and most would prefer to be outdoors and socially distanced. So road trip to see the autumn leaves is probably in the cards for more people than usual.
The time in autumn that the leaves change color varies from year to year; a difference of a week to ten days on either side of last year’s date isn’t unusual. It’s all based on the weather in autumn, as well as the trees’ living conditions for the rest of the year. How much water the trees have had access to, temperature, and any stressors to the trees all play a part in when their leaves change color.
When I was looking for an interactive fall foliage prediction map last year, I came across the one offered by smokymountains.com. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it doesn’t just show you the area of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, the Great Smoky Mountains, etc. Instead, it shows you a map of the entire country, county by county. It also allows you to pick various dates so you can see which areas are going to hit their peak, and when.
They’ve updated their site for 2020 and it’s just as good as last year’s version. I love how they also give an easy-to-understand lesson in how and why leaves change – in case y’all want to know :-).
Of course, no fall colors map is going to be 100% accurate. All it takes is an early frost or a few days of second summer to potentially mess up the schedule. But as a prediction tool, this one is excellent.
Feature Photo (cropped): chensiyuan / Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary