Fall is arguably the best time of year. Cool weather, football, pumpkin spice lattes and, of course, the fall leaves. The brilliant leaf colors that show up this time of year always amaze me. The fall foliage is the perfect excuse to plan a little weekend getaway or just go for a long drive.
That said, it can be pretty challenging to figure out the ideal time to see the leaves changing color. Luckily, the good people over at SmokyMountains.com created this amazing map that will help predict the best time to view the fall foliage in full effect. The map goes down to the county level, which is pretty amazing. Click here to access the interactive version of the map.
So how does this magic little map work? The team combined data from National Weather Service (historical temperature and precipitation data along with upcoming forecast data), historical leaf peak data and current leaf observations.
“While scientists know exactly why leaves change colors, it is much more difficult to determine the precise moment when leaves will change colors,” Wes Melton, the fall foliage map engineer, told Travel + Leisure. “There are multiple weather factors that must be carefully analyzed including temperature, sunlight, precipitation, and soil moisture.”
So why do leaves change color? It all comes down to the chlorophyll that is in the leaves. According to the New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry:
But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.
At the same time other chemical changes may occur, which form additional colors through the development of red anthocyanin pigments. Some mixtures give rise to the reddish and purplish fall colors of trees such as dogwoods and sumacs, while others give the sugar maple its brilliant orange.
If you don’t have time for a little trip, you can check out our collection of some amazing fall pictures that will help get your fix. And make sure to check out these beautiful fall barn photos as well to really put yourself in the fall spirit.
Click here to access the interactive chart.