Now with autumn being well under way, it’s time to celebrate one of the greatest beauties nature has to offer during this time of year: fall foliage.
Leaf peeping, while certainly a seasonal pastime, could almost be considered a fall sport. To be good at it, you’ve got to plan your strategy, and execute it swiftly. Knowing where to go, and when, is key.
To help you know when the fall foliage will begin in your area, as well as locations you can visit to witness the hallmark of autumn, an interactive map from SmokyMountains.com predicts the weeks during which each part of the U.S. will experience peak fall foliage. Meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year, “the 2016 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves.”
Simply drag the square marker on the toolbar below the map to see how this year’s foliage will play out over the next couple of months.
In order to accurately predict when and where leaves will peak, the map “uses an algorithm to predict when leaves will peak in each area of the country,” said Wes Melton, an engineer who worked on the map. “While scientifically the concept of leaves changing colors is fairly simple, the ability to accurately predict when they will peak is very difficult due to the number of factors.”
Temperature, the amount of sunlight, precipitation and moisture in the soil all affect how quickly the foliage will change.
The map’s algorithm analyzes several million temperatures and forecast data points gathered from the National Weather Service, as well as historical leaf peak trends and peak observation trends. It then outputs more than 40,000 predictive data points in an interactive and easy-to-understand predictive leaf map that tell users when and where — down to the county level — to expect change.
“Our end goal is to produce a map that’s useful and fun,” said Melton.
Check out SmokyMountain.com’s predictive fall foliage map here, and start planning that weekend trip.