While it's not officially autumn yet, if you're an unabashed lover of fall, it's never too early to start planning for optimal leaf peeping. Thankfully, Smoky Mountains National Park is on it, calculating when the leaves will look their colorful best all across the country.
The Smoky Mountains team has once again released their foliage prediction map, updated for 2017. The complex algorithm uses historical and forecasted precipitation and temperatures, as well as historical leaf peak and observational trends to predict when the trees will be at their most colorful. As each year passes, there's more historical data to consider, and therefore, the predictions get more accurate.
"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," says data scientist Wes Melton.
In comparison to last year and other past data, this fall will be hotter than normal (so keep those sweaters in storage for awhile), and above average precipitation this summer mean considerable changes for peak leaf season.
"Other than the Pacific Northwest, we are expecting warmer-than-average fall temperatures during the during the September through November time period," Molton says.
"Due to the heavier precipitation throughout the summer months, this year's leaf model is predicting an earlier-than-typical peak fall. However, the NOAA 90-day future precipitation and temperature graphs point to an prolonged color period for much of the country with higher elevations peaking first." More color sounds great to us.
Check out where your area falls reaches peak season in the interactive map below:
Check out more, including the science on why leaves change their color, over on SmokyMountains.com.