COLUMBUS – Fall color, considered lackluster throughout much of the state last year, is expected to return to its fiery glory next month, peaking the third week of October throughout northern Ohio.
State forester David Parrott said the weather conditions in recent months should lead to a more typically vibrant and normal schedule for fall color throughout Ohio in 2022.
“We’re primed to have a good year as long as weather conditions stay conducive from this point on,” said Parrott, a fall-color expert for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Last year, he said, a warm and wet autumn delayed fall color, particularly in the southern half of the state. Trees stayed green into November and then lost their leaves all at once.
That shouldn’t happen this year, he said. In fact, trees in urban areas and along major roadways are already showing some color change, he said.
“We’re due a better year than we had last year,” said Parrott. “I think it’s a good sign that we’re starting to see these changes statewide. At least the process is starting.”
He added, “People get very upset if the leaves don’t perform. I feel very responsible.”
Despite his optimism, he said, Mother Nature remains in control. Extreme weather events – cold, wind, rain, excessive heat or drought – can wreak havoc on fall color.
“What we really want is sunny days and cool, crisp evenings,” he said. “That’s the recipe for the best colors possible.”
Doug Kahn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, said temperatures over the next couple of weeks are expected to be below normal, increasing to normal and above normal by early to mid-October. The first part of October may be dryer than normal, with average precipitation later in the month.
Peak fall color should arrive in Northern Ohio between Oct. 17 and Oct. 24, according to Parrott; in central Ohio, peak color is expected between Oct. 21 and Oct. 28; and in southern Ohio, Oct. 24 to Oct. 31.
As in previous years, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will track the progression of fall color across the state with weekly updates to its website, fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov. Color watchers at state parks and forests throughout Ohio will rate the color on a scale of mostly green, changing, near peak, peak and fading.
The site also includes suggestions on fall events, activities, places to stay and more. TourismOhio also has launched its Fall in Ohio campaign, featuring hundreds of activities, events and destinations for fall getaways. See ohio.org.
To track fall color outside Ohio, check out the interactive map put together by the tourism site SmokyMountains.com. A sliding button at the bottom of the map shows how fall color is expected to progress from north to south, Maine to Florida. The site is predicting that peak fall color in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, for example, will arrive in mid-October.