Here’s a look at when fall color peaks occur in different parts of Michigan.
There are some moving parts to the peak fall color forecast.
Autumn colors appear when the trees stop growing. When growth stops, the green leaves emerge, followed by red, orange, yellow, and brown.
There are three factors that prevent a tree from keeping its leaves green.
- shortened day length
- low temperatures, especially below freezing
Looking at these three items, we can see one thing. As the days get shorter, the leaves turn red. Even the long, late green fall at some point turns red due to lack of sunlight.
Looking at where we currently stand, I like to start with forecasts for peak fall color, very early, showing color in the last few days of August or the first few days of September. There will always be some stressed trees that change color. We’ll see them again this year, but not in large numbers, isolated and changing trees here and there. From my observations over the years, I think this is the palest I’ve seen on September 10th.
Based on the not-so-early colors, I rule out early-than-usual peak fall colors.
This summer there was drought stress in some areas and excessive humidity stress. These stresses have eased somewhat. Dry areas he had some rain in August, and the flooded areas were less extensive. After all, this is one of his best works of Autumn Color Tales.
The most stellar waterfalls have the best colors and all the trees are showing their best at the same time.
That leads us to the weather being the catalyst for our peak fall colors. When temperatures drop into the 20s several times overnight, it usually causes a color peak the following week. The temperature pattern, at least until early October, looks warmer than normal and much warmer than normal. In fact, in northern Michigan he doesn’t get below freezing until the second week of October.
All of this points to a later-than-usual peak of fall color. If you have a favorite weekend to travel up north to see the peak colors, he recommends going one weekend later, and possibly two weekends later.
So here’s what I came up with based on everything happening with fall colors this year.The peak dates are at least a week later than past peak fall colors.
Related: Why Michigan’s beautiful fall foliage lasts longer in islands and seaside towns
I always think it’s better to lean toward the end of the period, so you get color. Going too early means you risk seeing a lot of green. Of course, going too late can cause a lot of leaves to fall off or cause fading.
Remember – this is a prediction. The first of the extended forecasts is preferably a starting point for slight fine-tuning. Check back here every few weeks in September to see if anything has changed.