Autumn is right around the corner, which means pockets of the United States are about to explode with color as leaves change to fiery hues.
To stay on top of the forthcoming foliage frenzy, a website named SmokyMountains.com unveiled an interactive prediction map this week, designed to give travelers a sense of where to go to see the biggest bursts.
The easy-to-use site boasts a sliding button that corresponds to a basic timeline that runs from mid-August to late October. To get a sense of where and when leaves will be most colorful in the Smoky Mountains, just slide the button from left to right. The map reflects everything in terms of color changes—classifications include minimal, patchy, partial, near-peak, peak, and past-peak.
Two general takeaways: Leaves should start changing colors at altitude this coming weekend, and by mid-September, most deciduous trees across the country should be awash with color.
Another not-so-subtle message: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to see fall foliage.
The SmokyMountains.com map is grounded in real science. The predictive map uses an algorithm that draws on 50,000 pieces of data, including historical temperatures and precipitation, forecasted temperatures and precipitation, historical leaf peak trends, and observation trends.
Scientist Wes Melton, the man behind the data, told CountryLiving.com this year’s info is better than ever.
“Our aggregated historical and current database now includes hundreds of thousands of unique data points giving us the ability to predict more accurately than ever before,” he was quoted as saying. “Due to the heavier precipitation throughout the summer months, this year’s leaf model is predicting an earlier-than-typical peak fall.”
For the true nerds among us, the site also offers scientific explanations about what happens biochemically when leaves change color and evidence about why leaves fall.
It also boasts inspirational quotes from philosophers such as Albert Camus.