Fall Foliage Prediction 2020 - Slightly Earlier Peak Color Expected This Year
MOUNT POCONO – There’s nothing like fall in The Poconos to make us want to get outside. We may not have our fall festivals this year, but we can still enjoy leaf peeping, apple picking, and pumpkin carving. With moderate temperatures, and brilliant colors, there’s nothing like an autumn hike in the Delaware Water Gap, or a stroll around the lake in Tobyhanna State Park.
This fall is different, of course, due to the pandemic. But a socially-distant outdoors adventure is among the safest activities, as many have discovered. All summer the local parks, hiking spots, and state lands have seen a surge in attendance. It’s not likely to be different this Fall.
Fall Foliage 2020 will not be COVID-canceled. And it will not be televised – you need to enjoy the vivid colors and crisp fresh air in the flesh.
There are myriad ways to safely enjoy the amazing Poconos autumn colors. Here we benefit from weather conditions that give us some of the best fall colors anywhere (we are second on the list of the country’s best foliage spectaculars).
When the acorns started to blanket our back porch over two weeks ago, we suspected that nature had an early foliage in store for us and it looks that way! Last week some mild yellow began to appear over The Knob lookout, and, on yesterday’s hike at the Farmhouse Preserve on Devils Hole Road, we saw some leaves already a bright red.
While it’s still hard to say when the peak color will arrive, it is looking like it will be early this season. We could examine forest health, how last winter ended and this spring began, the rain of summer, caterpillar outbreaks, fungal disease, April temperatures, wasp galls, acorn & nut production, and the million other things that impact fall foliage start, length, and intensity.
Or, we can just take advantage of the work of Wes Melton and David Angotti. Melton and Angotti created the Fall Foliage Prediction Map nearly ten years ago, to help promote fall leaf peeping tourism to the Smokey Mountains, where they managed over 100 vacation rentals.
To create the map, a complex algorithm was developed that carefully analyzes several million data points and outputs approximately 50,000 predictive data pieces. This data then enables the program to forecast county-by-county the precise moment when “fall peak” will occur. As time goes on and the algorithm is fed more data, it will only become more and more intelligent.
Some of the data points processed by the prediction algorithm include National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) historical temperatures, precipitation, forecast temperatures, and forecast precipitation; historical leaf peak trends; and peak observation trends.
“The predictive fall leaf map helps potential travelers, photographers and leaf peepers determine the precise future date that the leaves will peak in each area of the continental United States. . . .Our nationwide fall foliage prediction map is unique – it is one of the only fall leaf tools that provides accurate predictions for the entire continental United States,” said Melton, who, in addition to managing vacation rentals, is also a data scientist.
Mother Nature often has other plans we can’t foresee, so the map is meant to be a rough guide of what to expect, its makers warn. “While the refinement of our algorithmic model over the past eight years has helped us achieve reliable results, accurate meteorology predictions are sometimes elusive and never 100% accurate,” site founder David Angotti said in a statement. “However, the good news is that the combination of nearly a decade of experience combined with great meteorological data sources ensures we achieve a higher accuracy over time.”
So, what does this marvel of ingenuity, science, and technology say about the leaves in our back yards this fall?
According to the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, here in Monroe County, foliage starts right about now with some minimal changes, by September 21 there will be patchy color, the 28th brings us closer with some impressive partial coverage, and by October 5 we will have the near peak brilliance that makes our commute so enjoyable. Peak color is predicted to follow quickly by October 12, and a week later, October 19, Monroe County is expected to be past peak.
Local residents, keep your eyes on the road, but stop and enjoy the colors when you can. To our out of town friends, start making your plans now, before you miss the greatest free show around!