A first look at when to expect peak fall color

Heat and dryness could impact this year’s fall foliage
Whether is feels like it or not, Autumn is only a week away! WSFA meteorologist Tyler Sebree tells us about the fall foliage showing up across the USA.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 11:11 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The midway point of September is here! In addition, fall officially begins in a week. That means it’s fair to start talking about fall foliage without feeling guilty about it, right?

This year could wind up a little different than previous years in Alabama and many other states. That’s due to the heat stress trees have endured this summer. Dry weather has also been a problem for many states across the middle of the U.S.

Heat and dryness could impact the color seen in Alabama this fall.
Heat and dryness could impact the color seen in Alabama this fall.(WSFA 12 News)

As a result, the color that Alabama and other states witness may not be as vibrant or beautiful as years past. That isn’t 100% set in stone yet as things can certainly be rather fickle and difficult to predict in the world of fall color.

However, based on what Mother Nature has brought to Alabama in 2023, there’s a good chance the degree of color we see is less than “normal.” Don’t let that deter you from exploring Alabama’s beautiful scenery this fall as the color we do see should still be worth your time!

Fall color as of September 14th.
Fall color as of September 14th.(WSFA 12 News)

The hot summer could also cause some trees to show “false color” over the next 1-2 months. Heat stress tends to force some leaves to change color and fall off the trees earlier than normal. Any fall color Alabama sees in October will more than likely be due to heat stress.

You have to get past Halloween before noticeable yellows, oranges, reds, purples, and browns show up in Alabama’s trees. Up in far northern parts of the state it’s possible to get some solid color in late October.

For Central Alabama it’s typically mid-November when peak color occurs. For those in South Alabama that gets pushed back to late November, if not early December.

When fall color is usually at its peak in the U.S.
When fall color is usually at its peak in the U.S.(WSFA 12 News)

If you’re interested in checking out the fall color across the state this year, give this story a read! It will supply you with an idea of places to venture to for some excellent color.

From my personal experiences I highly suggest venturing up to Noccalula Falls, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Monte Sano State Park, DeSoto State Park, Bankhead National Forest, and Talladega National Forest.

For more on when the leaves are forecast to change -- and to what extent -- you can visit this website to help you plan your fall leaf peeping trip!

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