Fall Foliage Update: Color Emerging, But Still Behind Schedule

We’re starting to see some color “pop” in the NRV and in the Highlands, but the arrival of vibrant color continues to take its time. Here is the latest foliage report from around the area. Moderate color is being reported in the Highlands and New River Valley, while only patchy color is being observed east of the Blue Ridge.


Typically by now we are in peak season for fall color in the New River Valley and Highlands, but that’s just not the case this year. Even across the Roanoke Valley we should be knocking on the door for the brightest of color, but most areas still have mainly green. Below is a map of when we “normally” see peak color. We are currently running about a week to ten days behind what we normally see. Pending the weather going forward (more on that below) adding 7-10 days to the dates you see below is an okay bet on when peak season will roll around. Last season peak color came around October 20th to points along the Blue Ridge and west and we are running slightly behind last year. It took 3-5 days last year from moderate color to turn to high color and about 7-10 days from moderate color to turn to peak color west of the Blue Ridge so hopefully by next weekend we’ll start to something close to peak color.


For reference…below is a map from foliagenetwork.com that shows where we were at this point last year. This time last year we had high color being observed in the NRV and Highlands and even along the spine of the Blue Ridge. Moderate color was even pushing its way to the east of Ronaoke.

Foliage Color Map

The biggest contributor to the leaves changing and falling is the shorter days. We are definitely seeing that as the loss of daylight remains constant with each year. What doesn’t remain constant is the weather. We ended Summer on a very dry note which could be a factor in why we aren’t seeing the color explode just yet, but an even bigger reason lies within the temperature department. Up until this past week we haven’t seen those cool, crisp nights. On top of that we saw a lot of rain and cloud cover to end September and start October. Perfect conditions for fall color are sunny afternoons followed by cool nights that stay above freezing. If you’ve been paying attention then you have noticed over the past 5-7 days we have taken a big step to getting more color out there.

***Unseasonably and potentially record breaking warm air will push in over the next week which may slow the color making process once again so it may take a touch longer than that 7-10 days it took to go from moderate color to peak. One thing is for sure though you can’t fight the sun angle so just remain patient (I know it’s hard) and we’ll soon get in on one of the best parts about living in this area.


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