The 2010 Fall Foliage Season is Here!

Greetings, leaf peepers! You’ve come to the right place for Oregon fall foliage updates. September is here, the air is a bit cooler, and there’s just a faint hint of yellow and red dotting trees along the Willamette Valley.

Our fall foliage hotline has been ringing off the hook, so we know you’re looking forward to the season as much as we are. The variety of factors involved make predictions difficult, but here’s a roundup of what we usually see around the state, based on past experience:

-In the Willamette Valley the peak color change often happens during the third week in October.

-The higher you go in the Cascade Mountains the earlier the color change. Road passes often peak 10 days to two weeks earlier than the lower elevations.

-The earliest fall color display happens in the Wallowa Mountains and northeast region of Oregon, peaking the first part of October

So what’s happening now? Our friends at Mount Pisgah Arboretum shared some photos and observations with us this morning. While we’ve heard murmurings that the foliage season may be delayed a bit due to a cool, rainy beginning to summer, the ash and maple trees are already starting to show some yellow.

Ash

Maple

This is also the time of year that poison oak starts to show its beautiful pink-to-crimson spectrum, making it easier for hikers to spot along trails.

Red Poison Oak in the Fall

Poison Oak in the Fall

All photos courtesy Katura Reynolds, Mount Pisgah Arboretum

We’ll have our first statewide foliage update later this week, so stay tuned to find out where you can find the first fall color around the state. As you’re discovering beautiful foliage, post your observations in the comment section, and share your fall photos with us on Flickr. Here’s to a great season!

2009 Predictions

When Laura Bly from USA Today called about the fall foliage round up article mentioned in our last post, she asked about 2009 specific predictions for the upcoming season. We wrote about general trends at the beginning of September, but now we bring you a prediction crafted specific to this year’s conditions.

Between the expertise of Norm Michaels, a silviculturist with the Willamette National Forest, and some data mining on the National Weather Service website, this is what we found.

Although a dry summer may make leaves shut down sooner than normal, it’s not really the best determinant. Based on precipitation data from the National Weather Service, we were a little under in the Willamette Valley this summer (Eugene, McMinnville, Portland), but some recent rainfall in September may put us back on track for an average mid-October peak.

It takes freezing weather for the color to really snap, so regardless of rain, we’ll have to wait for the weather to drop.

What is exciting this fall is that the National Weather Service is predicting below normal precipitation throughout much of Oregon. This should extend the fall foliage viewing season! Rain can actually wash out the leaves’ color and make them drop sooner.

We’re crossing our fingers for a cool, crisp fall and long-lasting foliage, so get out there and explore Oregon! Join our new Oregon Fall Foliage Flickr group, and share photos of your colorful adventures this season.