Experts Warn That Fall Foliage May Fall Short This Year

published Sep 19, 2021
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Credit: Bryant Jayme

Fall lovers will know the excitement of seeing the first signs of Autumn as the leaves turn from green to red, orange, and yellow. But, I’m afraid it may be bad news, leaf peepers, as scoping out fall foliage could be a little tougher this year. Experts have warned that things may not live up to expectations this year, with leaves showing more muted colors, and changing for a shorter period of time.

The Weather Channel’s Kait Parker has reported that warmer-than-average temperatures across much of the country over the next three months, and the extreme weather conditions in the West, will have an impact on this year’s fall foliage. Fall foliage requires the perfect temperatures to thrive—not too hot or not too cold—and with current extreme weather conditions meaning over 90% of the West is currently experiencing severe drought, this is looking unlikely as we head into October.

“Fall foliage needs the right combination of temperature and moisture, and the west is certainly lacking the latter,” Parker explains in a video report posted to “The drought there could cause trees to have muted colors, and change for a shorter period of time. And while warmer temperatures are expected nationwide, they’ll be most pronounced in the southwest and northeast, and that means leaves may change earlier.”

According to CNN, the lack of rain in the West will cause trees to go into survival mode and prepare for winter much earlier than normal, particularly affecting shallow-rooted trees such as maples and birches. As a result, some parts of the U.S. will see fall colors come and go much sooner than anticipated.

“This stressful condition causes leaves to turn brown and fall off before they reach their peak color,” CNN Meteorologists, Hannah Gard and Allison Chinchar, explain in the article. “The duration of the leaf color can be impacted by causing leaves to fall off prematurely. Prolonged and extreme drought can cause physical damage to trees making it harder for trees to protect themselves against pests and disease, and slow their overall growth. Some locations will probably see fall colors earlier than usual this year, and they won’t last as long as previous years.”

Sorry, fall lovers! Although you may not be able to get the best fall foliage fix outside this year, there are plenty of stylish and modern ways to incorporate it into your home.