Fall Foliage Predictions for the Willamette Valley

Editor’s note: Every year, the most common question we get is “When will the leaves turn this year?” While the number of factors involved make it challenging to accurately predict peak color times, we asked Al Peterson of KVAL TV in Eugene to explain how this year’s weather may impact the foliage season.

A perfect leaf color scenario occurs when we get wet, then cold suddenly.  We’ve seen a little bit of rain, but temperatures in this first week of Fall 2011 were definitely summer-like.  We need some cool nights to really trigger dramatic leaf color changes.

But good news for leaf lovers:  It’s a La Niña year!  La Niña falls and winters tend to be wetter and colder than average. In the winter, that’s not a great combination. But in fall, it typically means crisp mornings sooner rather than later. The rain also tends to warn deciduous trees that fall is on the way. Those are good triggers for leaf changes.

So by the end of September, you are likely to see some yellow and red leaves on hillsides and hilltops. By the middle of October, we may see enough chilly mornings to really bring on color!

Al Peterson

-Al Peterson,  KVAL TV

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