This week’s fall foliage report - Oct 7-9

Colors are quickly changing thanks to the recent cool air
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT|Updated: 14 hours ago
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Patches of color are already showing all over the western half of Virginia. While the western ridges of West Virginia toward Cass and Snowshoe are peaking now, it’s still going to take several more weeks for the colors to peak in southwest Virginia.

The cooler nights along with the sunny, warm afternoons helps trigger the trees to slow their production of chlorophyll and start shutting down. This allows the colors to shine through.

Check out the colors posted from Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. These areas are peaking the next two weekends.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: Areas with higher elevation forests (above 3000 feet) in southwest Virginia, currently have up to 50% color change, but it’s splotchy.

ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS: There are patches of intense color as well. At lower elevations, you’ll see some nice reds developing, and cooler nights will enhance the development of red pigments.

NEW RIVER VALLEY: Colors are certainly visible in patches, especially as you go up in elevation. Plan for peak between the second and third week of October.

PIEDMONT/SOUTHSIDE: We’re still mostly green with a few signs of yellow and orange, and occasional reds and maroons from the dogwood trees.

PRO TIP: Trees planted in cities and suburbs often show color earlier than those in the woods, so your own neighborhood may already be giving you some autumn vibes.

Take a road trip to the western mountains and you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to share your photos with us.

SCIENCE BEHIND THE COLORS

Before the first leaves started changing colors, Dr. John Seiler joined the WDBJ7+ Digital News Desk to break down his predictions for the upcoming season.

He is a professor and tree physiology specialist at Virginia Tech. Seiler said chlorophyl in the leaves breaks down, signaling the approach for winter.

When we’ve had as much rain and we’ve had, Seiler said the trees are, essentially, eating well. And that means we’re in for a vibrant peak season!

“You’re always going to get some. one thing I always tell people, we don’t have a bad year,” he said. “We have good, better and best. And I think we’re looking for a best one this year. Now of course there’s a lot of time left. The weather can do funny things as it can sometimes right, but we’re in great shape right now.”

So those of you in the Alleghany Highlands, mid-October is peak for you.

Late October for the New River Valley and the Blue Ridge. Central and Southside: you’re looking at late November!

If you and your family want to know more about the science behind the changing leaves, you can watch our full chat with Dr. Seiler on the WDBJ7+ Digital News Desk: