- The Weather Channel predicts that peak fall foliage may be delayed this year due to warmer-than-average temperatures.
- Dry conditions, as well as early frosts, in some parts of the country could also cause leaves to shed early.
- Experts still expect vibrant color changes later in the season.
Bad news for leaf-peeping enthusiasts: Peak foliage will likely see a delay this year across most of the United States, thanks to warmer temperatures lingering through late September, according to The Weather Channel.
Typically, the Rockies’ highest elevations, northern Minnesota, and northern New England see their most vibrant color changes by late September, while the rest of the Rockies, Midwest, and remaining Northeast reach peak fall foliage around early- to mid-October—but some experts predict a delay of at least one week later than average.
You can blame it on a mix of less-than-ideal weather patterns. Warmer than average temperatures are expected for the next one to two weeks for many parts of the country—and while warm, sunny days typically encourage the leaves to change, cool nights are still a must for the most brilliant leaf-peeping shows, per the U.S. Forest Service.
Time to start plotting some foliage trips? I'd aim about a week or so past the averages again this year with a warm outlook mid to late September. Very healthy forests right now should make for a good show, barring tropical trouble. #wbz pic.twitter.com/NJEZuxCSZp— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) September 9, 2019
“During these days, lots of sugars are produced in the leaf but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins going into the leaf prevent these sugars from moving out,” their official site explains. “These conditions—lots of sugar and light—spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint reds, purples, and crimson.”
Overnight lows are expected to be “rather mild” for the season, and there’s a 50-50 chance that parts of the Northeast, Southeast, Rockies, and West will experience a warm end to September, The Weather Channel says, citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate predictions for the coming weeks.
On top of that, dry conditions (expected in “some parts of the country”) and excessive rainfall can pause the color-changing process, since leaves may drop early before foliage season even really takes off. One example: Mountainous areas in the higher peaks of Utah and Wyoming are already experiencing their first snow of the season. The combination of an early frost and heavy, wet snow could encourage leaves to shed pre-peak.
But don’t feel too disappointed yet! Experts still predict a “vibrant display” of colors later in the season—you may just want to push your fall getaway back a week or two if you have your heart set on an autumnal wonderland.
You Might Also Like