I have never tried to time a trip to coincide with the peak fall foliage of a region. But if you are planning a vacation in advance, you can’t rely on my favorite method, which is looking out the window. Normally, you would do well to look at charts and maps online that indicate the average time of peak fall foliage for your destination. This year, however, the leaves might change colors a bit earlier than they normally would due to the hot, dry summer conditions.
I’ve mentioned the impact of the weather on corn, apples and pumpkins already this year. But a recent newspaper article brought the impact of the weather on the tree leaves to my attention. When plants are stressed because of heat and drought, they shut down chlorophyll production in their leaves earlier that they would otherwise. They then lose their green color and the red, orange and yellow colors that we enjoy throughout autumn are visible.
The last hot, dry summer was 2010. On August 30, 2010, the Boston Globe ran this article about how some leaves were starting to change colors in New England due to the summer weather conditions.
But, before you book that trip early, you should also know that the timing of the leaves depends on September weather as well. So it is still too early to say for sure when the brilliant leaf colors will peak. But if I were booking a vacation to enjoy the colors of the countryside, I wouldn’t count on fall foliage peaking late in the season in 2012.