There's nothing quite like fall foliage to make you appreciate the seasons.
And the map above, created by SmokyMountains.com, can be your up-to-date way of knowing when fall colors will reach peak beauty in your backyard. (In fact, we used this map to create our annual fall foliage guide, which is so useful for planning a trip.)
This predictive map uses a complex algorithm that analyzes millions of pieces of data, enabling the program to forecast by county when the precise moment of peak fall color will occur.
"Although simply entering rainfall, temperature data, elevations, and other data points into a model will never be 100% accurate, this combined with our proprietary, historical data drives our model to become more accurate each year," Wes Melton, the co-founder and CTO of SmokyMountains.com, told MNN. "However, unexpected rainfall that falls well outside of expected trends can always change the peak foliage dates and brilliance."
Leaves change color in the fall due to a series of changes in the plant, including the slowing production of chlorophyl, which is how leaves get their green color. As the days shorten and the nights get longer, other compounds within the leaf are unmasked by the absence of chlorophyl and produce the natural red, oranges and yellows we associate with this time of year.
"This predictive map is the perfect intersection of our passions and is our favorite project of the year!" said Melton. "We hope travelers find it as entertaining and useful as we do."