When to expect peak fall colors in Seattle
Fall is just around the corner and that means Western Washington's peak foliage viewing days are here.
Driving the news: Using historical weather reports, tree species info and user data, travel brand SmokyMountains.com put together 2023 foliage prediction maps for the U.S.
- In King County, fall colors are expected to peak on Oct. 2. That's sooner than in the surrounding counties, which are expected to see peak color on Oct. 9.
- All of Washington state will likely be past the height of the season by the end of October.
- The length of the season is also in question this year, with a moderate to strong El Niño influence expected.
- That could bring warmer, drier conditions to the Pacific Northwest, possibly extending the viewing season, which often ends unceremoniously with fall's first strong winds and rain.
Be smart: The green color in leaves comes from chlorophyll, the pigment that helps plants turn sunlight into energy via photosynthesis.
- As nights get longer and there's less sunlight in the fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll.
- The green color fades and the yellows, oranges, reds or purples become visible.
Lively foliage displays can be found at many Seattle parks, including Discovery Park, the Washington Park Arboretum, and Kubota Garden.
- For longer outings, local meteorologist and avid hiker Michael Fagin recommends Naches Peak Loop and Swauk Discovery Trail for families with kids.
- Crystal Lakes Trails, Rachel Lake, Granite Mountain Lookout and Lake Valhalla are more challenging but have spectacular colors, especially at higher elevations, he said.
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