(NEXSTAR) — Now that we’re well into fall, you’re likely seeing the leaves on the trees around you changing — if they haven’t fallen already.
Depending on where you live, that may be the case. According to new predictions, many parts of the country are already well into peak fall colors.
SmokyMountains.com, a travel brand dedicated to promoting the Smoky Mountain region, produces a fall foliage map every year, showing when areas in the U.S. will near, reach, and surpass peak colors. To develop its fall foliage forecast, SmokyMountains.com uses geographical and meteorological data including temperature and precipitation data; forecasted temperature and precipitation; the types of trees known to be in the area; and user-reported information.
While it may not be completely accurate, the map does offer insight into how soon the autumn colors will peak.
As of October 9, nearly every state — except those in the South, stretching from Oklahoma and Texas to Arkansas and Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, and most of Mississippi and Georgia — are at least seeing some fall colors.
The further north, east, and west you travel from the Gulf states, the further along the fall colors are predicted to be. In some portions of the states along the Canadian border and in New England, the trees may already be past peak.
If you live in a northern state, you may only have a couple more weeks to enjoy the fall colors: By the week of October 23, SmokyMountains.com predicts most will be past peak. The same is true for the mountainous regions of states in the West, as well as along the Great Smoky Mountains.
The slideshow below shows fall foliage predictions, courtesy of SmokyMountains, starting with the week of Oct. 9.
While there are multiple factors that can influence when the leaves change, the length of day plays a large part in the process, Brad Hutnik, a forest ecologist/silviculturist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, told Nexstar.
The days have been growing shorter since the summer solstice in mid-June, and it will only become more noticeable as we near the end of daylight saving time. Trees, Hutnik explains, are tuned into that lack of light, and will begin to wind down for the year.
“Oftentimes, by the time we’re seeing the leaves on the trees [changing], that tree is functionally shut down for the year, and those leaves are essentially just dying off,” Hutnik says.
Enjoy the leaves while you can — by late October and early November, the fall foliage will be past peak in most areas of the country.