By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo) From brilliant gold Aspens to the autumnal hues that fleck Colorado’s mountains, the fall is a nice reminder of why our state is nicknamed “Colorful Colorado.” But as every local knows, fall colors are fleeting, and there’s a precise window when those glowing golds and striking reds appear on chlorophyll-deprived leaves.
To help you properly plan your hikes in the high country or leaf-peeping excursions along the Peak-to-Peak Highway, a fall foliage map created by a statistician with thousands of data points layered in predicts when the leaves will be at their peak throughout the country. According to the forecast, fall color magic in the Rocky Mountains will happen the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 3.
The fall foliage predictor map is created by SmokyMountains.com, using a predictive algorithm that analyzes several million data points to forecast peak color in a county-by-county format. The algorithm processes historical precipitation, forecast temperatures, and precipitation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and factors in historical leaf peak trends.
For the first time, users are encouraged to fill out a form to report the fall foliage they’re witnessing. With millions of annual users, the leaf map’s creator David Angotti expects the reports to educate the mode even further and impact the mid-year update scheduled for late September.
The intuitive map has a slider that readers can move to see the predicted progression of autumnal colors. The green indicates the trees in that area of the country have
not begun to change colors. The brown means that the leaves are past their peak. Indicators in between include “patchy” and “near peak.”
Similar to any meteorological forecast that depends on weather variables, the leaf predictions are not 100 percent accurate. But after publishing the predictive fall foliage map for nearly a decade, Angotti says the team is confident in its data sources, process and algorithm.
The map came about in 2013 when potential visitors to the Smoky Mountain region began asking about when the leaves would be most brilliant. What started as a fun side project became the most respected nationwide fall leaf map.
People use the map to plan vacations, weddings and photography trips, says Angotti.
“However, the most common use is individuals using the leaf map to check when leaves will peak near their home,” Angotti says.