When and Where to See Peak Fall Foliage around New England
Planning your leaf-peeping journeys this year? Consult this map.
Ready to hit the road on some of New England’s best foliage drives? Hoping to get your steps in along Massachusetts’ most gorgeous autumn running routes? For maximum leaf exposure, be sure to time your journeys through this colorful wonderland of ours just right.
For a little help making plans this fall, an interactive forecast map for 2019 offers predictions on when you can get the most out of the season. Produced by SmokyMountains.com, a site that promotes travel to that natural destination, the map draws from “millions of data points” on temperature and precipitation from NOAA, and compares them against leaf-peak trends from years past to “determine the precise time foliage will peak anywhere in the continental U.S.”
According to the map, the northern reaches of New England should peak by October 5, with optimal color showing up in Massachusetts by about October 12. When we get to October 16, it predicts, all of New England foliage will be past its peak. Still, its makers caution that no foliage forecast is perfect, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the leaves and adjust accordingly.
“Although the scientific concept of how leaves change colors is fairly simple, predicting the precise moment the event will occur is extremely challenging,” says SmokyMountains.com CTO Wes Melton. “The major factors impacting peak fall are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature. Although we cannot control Mother Nature and ensure 100% accuracy, our data sources are top-tier and each year we refine our algorithmic model achieving higher accuracy over time.”
It’s shaping up to be a pretty good year, according to Yankee magazine’s resident foliage expert Jim Salge, who shared his findings in his annual foliage forecast. A rainy spring, followed by a hot and humid summer brought plenty of moisture to the region, and there were some promising developments having to do with fungus and insects and so on, according to Salge. He says the long-range weather forecast in New England calls for warmth followed by cold spells, which will “kick-start the colors” later in the season.
“Putting this all together, we predict the colors will come in a bit later than the historical average, but they will be longer-lasting ones, given the generally healthy leaves,” he writes. “We expect to see more of the softer oranges and yellows than the bold reds — though in a year like this, with a thinner forest canopy, red leaves tend to pop even more than usual.”
— Jim Salge (@JimSalgePhoto) August 15, 2019