We are approaching the mid-point of fall and finally, fall foliage across parts of the DC metro area are approaching what should be the peak. What locations have the best color this weekend and how does this year's fall foliage compare to past years?

Early November Foliage Report:

Over the past couple of weeks, colors have been improving across much of the metro. Green is fading away and the new underlying colors of the leaves are being unmasked. The higher elevations in western Maryland and West Virginia near the eastern continental divide are past peak. The areas closest to peak have been expanding eastward. Places far west and north of DC, such as Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland are showing peak color. To the south of that near the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, colors are just past peak, but still showing beautiful muted colors. The peak of the foliage this year in the Shenandoah valley was in mid-October. Now we are starting to see colors with high color, nearing peak along and west of I-95 and east of the Shenandoah Valley.

Why do the leaves change color each fall?

In the fall time, the sun is positioned further south in the sky and the hours of daylight decrease along with falling temperatures. This causes the leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, which creates the vivid green colors in leaves with photosynthesis. As the amount of chlorophyll decreases, the underlying pigments of the leaves are unmasked. This creates the new orange, yellow, and crimson colors we signify with fall time.

Comparing this year's fall foliage: is it a good or vivid peak?
Although some trees are showing nice vivid color, overall, this fall is not one of the more memorable peaks overall and is quite dull in some areas. This can be attributed to the abnormally dry and unseasonably warm early fall. In September, the average temperature was 5° above the climatological average with a rain deficit of 1.22" for the month. In October, the average temperature was 3.6° above the climatological average with a rain deficit of 2.5" for the month. In general, the continued warm period has resulted in a lower production of the red pigmentation in some species of trees.

Match the leaf color with the tree:

Try this hands-on learning lesson with your young kids! Go in the backyard or to a nearby park and collect a few various leaves. Compare the colors of the leaves to this list and help them narrow down what type of tree it may have come from!

  • Oaks - Red, Brown, Russett
  • Hickories - Golden Bronze
  • Aspen & Yellow Poplar - Golden Yellow
  • Sourwood And Black Tupelo - Crimson
  • Maples - Scarlet, Orange-Red, Glowing Yellow
  • Elms - Brown

Enjoy the fall foliage this weekend! If you find some good color - snap a picture and share it with us on our WUSA 9 Facebook Page!