Perhaps you’re wondering how the weather affects fall colors and how foliage actually changes colors in the fall.
Ever hear of chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is a chemical that gives leaves their green color. In fact, chlorophyll is partly responsible for making green grass stains in your sock and pants. Chlorophyll is a vital element in photosynthesis (in very simple terms, the process in which leaves use sunlight to make sugar).
So, when chlorophyll is being produced, leaves remain green. However, when chlorophyll production slows down (such as when nights get longer and weather gets cooler), leaves begin to lose their chlorophyll. Carotenoids and anthocyanins, which are found in leaves throughout the year and give color to various kinds of fruit, predominate in the leaves. As the carotenoids and anthocyanins take over, leaves begin to change colors.
The changing colors of leaves in the fall, however, is a part of the process that lasts into the winter — when plants whose leaves are too tender to survive very cold weather must fall. This process actually helps protect these plants and enables the plant to survive into the spring, when weather is warmer and leaves may grow anew.
So basically, it has a lot to do with:
- shorter days and longer nights
- warmer autumn days and crisp cold nights
- soil moisture levels
Wondering where you can see the most brilliant colors of fall?…
Best Places To See Changing Fall Foliage
The northeastern United States is a popular place to view the changing colors of leaves.
The northern reaches of the U.S. such as Maine and Vermont are where leaves tend to change color first — typically sometime between late-August and mid-September.
As the fall extends into October and November, the mountains of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina and valleys of surrounding regions are washed in colors of red, orange, and yellow.
Regions in the western U.S. also experience color changes, however much later.
The U.S. Forest Service offers roads which trace through some of the most colorful forests. The U.S. Forest Service even has a fall color hotline: 1-800-354-4595. You can call to find out where colorful leaves can be seen.
Good Websites, Maps And Color Trackers
Planning road trips to find the best, most colorful scenery is something that many people do every fall.
There are websites dedicated to helping people track where the fall colors are and when they might appear in certain areas. There are even vacation packages planned around viewing colorful fall scenes!
And, of course, there are always the ever-popular fall foliage drives that take you through some of the most scenic autumn-hued highways and byways in the United States.
You can also check out the latest fall weather report for the scoop on where fall colors may soon be turning up in your neck of the woods. Remember, of course, Mother Nature has a mind of her own. As with predicting the weather, scientists and observers can try to forecast where and when leaves will change color, but only Mother Nature can decide where and when she will put on her colorful fall show!
Here are some of the best site for tracking fall foliage changes:
- New Hampshire Foliage Report
- Fall Foliage Trip Ideas
- New England Foliage News
- Best Tips For Viewing Colorful Leaves
- Vermont Fall Foliage Tracker
- New England Fall Foliage Vacation Guide
I'm a weather geek from Florida who's been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years! I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about the weather. I especially like sharing interesting details about weather events and conditions that can affect you… and how to prepare for Mother Nature's ever-changing weather patterns.