The steaminess of summer has finally worn off and most of the country is getting that first cool nip in the air.
Now is the time for a pumpkin latte and to crack open that pumpkin ale, break-out your decorative gourds, and head out in your RV to bask in the annual show of fall colors.
Foliage seasons can be different from year to year. They can start early or end late. They can range from predominantly yellow to overwhelmingly red. They can be strikingly vibrant or complex with muted tones.
Many of the factors that go into these differences are already determined, and some require good fall weather to fully reach peak potential. But in general, what you want is a seasonably mild and reasonably wet spring, a summer with adequate rainfall, and, most important, lots of warm, sunny days and clear, cool nights in the weeks leading up to autumn.
Above-average moisture and temperatures this summer mean this year’s foliage may come a tad later than usual, but should be especially good.
To assist you in planning your leaf peeping travels, SmokyMountains.com recently released its annual interactive fall foliage forecast map and guide, predicting when and where the leaves will be most vibrant.
Although this map can help you plan your leaf peeping to catch the colors at their absolute peak, no forecast is 100 percent accurate and a number of factors affect when and for how long trees with see their peak. For example, if a storm rolls through and blows the leaves off the trees once they’ve turned, you’ll have a very limited time to enjoy them.
While no fall foliage prediction tool or forecast is perfect, the map is “meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.”
The best plan is to put on your favorite sweater, head out in your RV, and say hello to autumn while you’re enjoying the season.
Unlike last year, when most of the US had reached peak or beyond peak by early October, the forecast suggests peak will arrive slightly later in 2018, thanks to heavier precipitation and warmer temperatures through September.
Or the previous fall (2016) when the colors disappointed in the Smokies due to extremely dry conditions that sparked numerous forest fires through the area.
Conditions in September have a huge impact on the colors you’ll see: “While fall color vibrancy is completely dependent on weather, the most critical month is September. Generally speaking, crisp days combined with plenty of sunshine throughout September will produce the best colors.”
It’s also worth noting that there are still some factors at play that can influence when the leaves will reach peak in some places and how beautiful they’ll be.
“Although simply entering rainfall, temperature data, elevations, and other data points into a model will never be 100 percent accurate, this combined with our proprietary, historical data drives our model to become more accurate each year,” Wes Melton, co-founder and CTO of SmokyMountains.com, said in a statement.
“However, unexpected rainfall that falls well outside of expected trends can always change the peak foliage dates and brilliance.”
As for New England, specifically, photographer and fall foliage expert Jim Salge of Yankee Magazine also expects an explosion of beautiful fall colors across the region, but just a tad later than usual.
El Nino is expected to develop, which will lead to warmer-than-normal temperatures persisting through much of fall, explains Salge.
“Putting this all together, we are fairly confident that the leaves will be bright, bold, and healthy when they begin to change in most areas, and a colorful, vibrant show should be on tap across most of New England this year,” said Salge in his report, “2018 New England Fall Foliage Forecast”.
“We also believe that the leaves, especially up north, will turn a bit later than historical averages.”
Choose your fall adventure and be inspired to plan an RV getaway for you and your family. Fall foliage won’t wait and neither should you.
Summer ends, and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.