A new peak leaf-peeping prediction map is about to take the guesswork out of your fall traveling planning.
Fall foliage is the perfect excuse for a long weekend getaway, and this map from SmokyMountains.com will tell you when to expect the colors to peak—down to the county.
“While scientists know exactly why leaves change colors, it is much more difficult to determine the precise moment when leaves will change colors,” Wes Melton, the map's engineer, told Travel + Leisure. “There are multiple weather factors that must be carefully analyzed including temperature, sunlight, precipitation, and soil moisture.”
The interactive map, which is produced to forecast peak colors each year, compiles National Weather Service data on historical temperatures, forecast temperatures, and forecast preciptiation, as well as historical leaf peak and peak observation trends.
To see when colors will change in each part of the country, slide the date forward.
Fall Foliage Map 2016
“While there are several predictive leaf maps, this map is the only foliage map that offers county-level prediction for the entire continental United States,” Melton told T+L. “In the past, leaf-peepers would rely on historical leaf trends rather than using a data-based prediction method.”
That can lead to inaccurate date estimates that do not account for changes in temperature and moisture year to year, according to Melton: “However, the millions of data points we analyze help us display an accurate, intuitive, and interactive map.”
The predictive leaf map will have you planning your foliage vacation before you can say “leaf peeping.”
If you don't have a fall foliage destination in mind already, there is no shortage of options. The national parks, celebrating their centennial, feature landscapes that will make autumn your favorite season. Foliage favorite Vermont offers dozens of amazing itineraries, and while New England is most associated with the colorful change of the season, there are also amazing options to the south and to the west.