Fall Foliage Ready for Brilliance in Northeast Once Again

Posted: September 11, 2021 1:43 pm

It may still feel like summer in some areas of the US, but fall is definitely in the air. Accompanying the cooler weather comes the arrival of turning fall leaves in all of their colorful glory. The specific timing of the turning of the leaves varies greatly throughout the US depending on location and weather patterns. Here is what you need to know about when to expect the leaves to show their majesty in your area.

West Coast

Much like 2020, the fall foliage forecast for the West Coast is predicted to be a bit less impressive compared to previous years. Experts are blaming the ongoing wildfires for blunting Mother Nature’s annual fall show. While there will still be areas that are bursting with orange, red, and bright yellow hues, the colors will be slightly dimmer this year.

It will also be more difficult to get the best look at the colors due to the closures of many government-owned lands. In addition, persistent smoke due to the fires will make it more challenging to see what color there is.

The best areas to catch the fall foliage out west will be in the Cascades stretching from northern Washington, through Oregon, and into the northern part of California.

Northeast and Appalachians

As usual, the best place to see the fall colors will be in the far corners of the Northeast. Last year’s leaf-peeping season in the Northeast was a bit of a bust due to an earlier onset of fall and an extended period with no rain that caused the leaves to fall from the trees at a faster clip.

An expected bout of milder weather to start the season may delay the peak of the fall foliage season this year. For example, while the peak of the viewing generally happens in late September or early October for Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and upstate New York, this may be delayed a week or two due to moderate temperatures in this corner of the nation.

Moving south into Pennsylvania, the Ohio Valley, the southern tier of New England, and the northern mid-Atlantic, normal rainfall this year will likely translate to vibrant colors of leaves this fall.


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However, the extremely wet conditions in some areas may limit the number of red leaves this year. Tropical Storms Henri and Ida delivered record amounts of rain to this corner of the US over the last month, potentially throwing a wrench into the plans of some travelers to see the changing leaves. Any additional tropical weather patterns could blow even more leaves off of the trees before they have the chance to reach peak color.

Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley, and Tennessee Valley

The central part of the nation will likely offer a brilliant showing in 2021 at the hands of a steady amount of rainfall over the last few months. Cities that are forecast to display a brighter array of fall colors this year include Detroit and Chicago.

Drought conditions in the far western reaches of this region may inhibit leaf viewing. For example, the northern tier of Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas will not be as bright this year with more shades of brown making an appearance.

As you move to the south toward the Tennessee Valley and Mississippi Valley, leaf peepers should be greeted with better viewing opportunities. This includes the cities of St. Louis, Little Rock, Nashville, and Memphis.

However, this region is also at risk of a tropical system pushing up through the Gulf of Mexico and blowing leaves off of the trees before they reach their full brightness. So while the leaf viewing predictions are favorable at this point, all it takes is one tropical event to ruin the foliage in a matter of hours.

Rocky Mountains and Four Corners

The Four Corners is set to see a gorgeous fall foliage season throughout the mountainous regions thanks to an active monsoon season. This means that the southern Rockies in New Mexico will be particularly brilliant this year.

Southern Colorado will also be a great place to see the fall leaves putting on a show. If you enjoy the changing colors on the Aspen trees, you will be in for a special treat this autumn with colors that are expected to be especially vibrant and full.

However, the colors will start to dull as you move farther to the north, including the popular leaf-peeping areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Ongoing severe drought conditions in this region will limit the ability of the leaves to reach their full potential.

The drought will also translate to a weaker fall foliage season in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and northern Utah. A lack of rain reduces the visibility of the colors on the leaves because of additional stress put on the trees.