This week’s fall foliage report - Oct 21-23

Most areas peaking the next two weekends
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:18 PM EDT
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After one of the coldest few days of October in more than a decade, the frosty nights and sun-filled days has led to an emergence of colors around the region this week. Now that afternoon temperatures are warming up, we’ll notice even more colors and less green into the weekend. The cold air will likely enhance those reds of the dogwood, red maple and Virginia Creeper.

Leaves in Wise, Grayson, Scott, as well as Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties are now past peak but still have muted colors until we get some wind to bring those leaves down to rake.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY: Areas along the Parkway with higher elevation forests (above 2000 feet) in southwest Virginia are now peaking. This includes areas near Sharp Top as well as down to Mabry Mill and into the North Carolina mountains.

ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS: The leaves are now peaking in Bath, Alleghany, Rockbridge and along border down to Craig and Giles counties. This is also includes western Botetourt near Roaring Run.

NEW RIVER VALLEY: Leaves are peaking or very close to it across the New River Valley. Even the deeper valleys have lots of colors. Grab your camera and snap some photos.

PIEDMONT/SOUTHSIDE: We’re seeing plenty of yellows and oranges as the colors unfold across the Southside but are still another week or two away from peak. That will likely happen the weekend of Halloween or first week of November.

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: