The days are growing shorter and pumpkins are popping up at supermarkets from coast to coast, precursors to a dramatic shift that is about to take place on hillsides and mountain ranges all across the continent.
One of the tell-tale signs that autumn has arrived is when forests transition to a palette of vibrant colors, a transformation so grand that it can be seen from space.
The exact timing of when the leaves change colors is related to the weather leading up to fall, and the recent weather patterns across the United States have tipped the hand of Mother Nature. AccuWeather meteorologists are ready to make their annual fall foliage forecasts all the way from New England through New Mexico.
Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley and Tennessee Valley
Leaf peepers across the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley are likely to have a good showing this year thanks to the weather patterns that have evolved over the past few months.
Areas farther south and east across the Midwest that picked up more rainfall throughout the summer, when compared to western areas in the grips of a drought, are expected to exhibit more vibrant colors with more reds and oranges, according to Pastelok. Chicago and Detroit are among the areas that Pastelok highlighted for nice fall foliage viewing this fall.
Because of the drought farther west, Minnesota and surrounding areas may miss out on vibrant colors this autumn. Even if there are some periods of rain throughout September, it will be too late to help the foliage.
“We are expecting more dull colors, more brown and perhaps early leaf dropping, especially for western and northern areas of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas,” Pastelok said.
Colors are projected to be near or slightly better than normal farther south through the Mississippi River Valley and surrounding regions. This includes areas around Little Rock, Arkansas, St. Louis, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky.
“For the Tennessee Valley, we are holding back on brighter reds and oranges due to rainfall, and more rain is expected in this region through September,” Pastelok said.
“Fall foliage should be good to excellent viewing with near-normal peak times,” he said.
Similar to areas farther east, if a tropical system like Ida were to make landfall along the Gulf coast and maintain gusty winds as it pushes inland, then it could blow the colorful leaves off the trees in addition to causing damage. Otherwise, AccuWeather forecasters expect vibrant colors across this area.