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FOLIAGE WATCH: When you could see the leaves change color this year

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Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!

October is rapidly approaching, which means the comfortable fall days will become more commonplace. It also means the leaves on trees around Southwest and Central Virginia will start to change!

Here’s a look at the average peak foliage dates for our viewing area. Typically, the leaves start to change in the western part of the area first.

There are a few weather-related things we need to happen to get the foliage on time or even an early start.

Sunshine and warm temperatures in the afternoons, combined with cool temperatures at night are the three most important factors. Having some moisture to play with is important, too. We’ve had all four of these factors recently.

If you’re planning a trip to see the fall colors somewhere in the viewing area, there are resources available to help you pick the best spot.

The Foliage Report tells us we’ve gotten some low color on the fringes of the area in places like Highland, Nelson and Wythe Counties.

You can also check out the Virginia Department of Forestry for an update on the change in leaf color.

Now, let’s talk about the foliage forecast. We’ve heard from a few different outlets about when the leaves could start to change.

Virginia Tech tree physiology expert John Seiler says he expects the peak foliage to come one week earlier than normal.

“I’m seeing some signs of things being a little early this year. A couple of particular ‘go to trees’ I monitor, they’ve already got some yellow in them,” Seiler said in a press release.

SmokyMountains.com puts out a yearly foliage forecast. They have pinpointed Oct. 11 for the peak foliage in the western half of the viewing area.

The forecasts call for the peak color to come to the eastern half of the viewing area one week later, around October 18.

After compiling all of the average and forecast information, I feel confident saying that this should be a pretty good year for fall foliage in Southwest and Central Virginia. I would expect the best colors to come right around when they usually do, if not slightly earlier.

If you get any great photos of the fall colors over the next month, we would love to see them! The best way to share with us is via Pin It.

Switching gears to this week’s forecast, we’re warming up! Meteorologist Chris Michaels has a look at the battle between summer and fall for control of our weather in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, the New River Valley or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also keep up with me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, follow along!

-- Justin McKee


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.