Your Fall Travel Needs This Foliage Map

Your Fall Travel Needs This Foliage Map

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Photo: SNEHIT PHOTO (Shutterstock)

For a few weeks each year, nature puts on a show in certain parts of the country. Sure, fall means that a long, dark winter is ahead of us, but before everything gets too bleak, some regions get to enjoy watching their leaves change color.

And while there are no guarantees when it comes to the weather, it is possible to use data from previous autumns to help predict when leaves will reach their peak. This information is available in map form, and the one for 2022 was just released. Here’s what to know about this year’s fall foliage—especially if you’re planning a trip to see it.

How to use the 2022 fall foliage map

As was the case in previous years, David Angotti—a statistician and the founder of the website SmokyMountains.com—is behind the 2022 fall foliage map.

Using the map is pretty straightforward: Just select a date using the slider at the bottom of the map, and the colors will indicate where the foliage will peak that particular week. For example, if you select September 5th, you’ll see the leaf forecast for the week of September 5th to 11th.

The map uses an algorithm that analyzes several million data points to provide a county-by-county forecast of when the changing leaves will reach their colorful peak. Some of these data points include:

  • NOAA historical temperatures
  • NOAA historical precipitation
  • NOAA forecast temperatures
  • NOAA forecast precipitation
  • Historical leaf peak trends
  • Peak observation trends
  • User Reports

So, how does one get into the fall foliage prediction business? “In 2013, potential visitors to the Smoky Mountain region began asking us questions about when the leaves would be most brilliant,” Angotti tells Lifehacker via email. “From these questions, we built the first version of the fall leaf map and have consistently improved it each year.”

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