Sep 18, 2023 - News

When to expect peak fall foliage in D.C.

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Predicted fall foliage progression in the Middle and South Atlantic U.S. 🍂
Data: SmokyMountains.com. Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Peak fall foliage in the D.C. area will be here before you know it.

Why it matters: Your window to view the bright hues might be trickier to predict, as climate change impacts when leaves change — and how colorful they get.

Between the lines: D.C.'s early September heatwave and ongoing drought conditions could make the leaf colors duller.

Driving the news: Using historical weather reports, tree species info, and user data, travel brand SmokyMountains.com put together 2023 foliage prediction maps of the U.S.

  • In the Mid-Atlantic, leaves change colors by October 23.
  • The Mid-Atlantic will likely be past its peak fall colors by the end of November.

Best places to view fall foliage in the D.C. area include:

Data: SmokyMountains.com. Map: Simran Parwani/Axios
Data: SmokyMountains.com. Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Between the lines: 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. Not borophyll!
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