2021 fall foliage prediction map will help you capture the best fall photos

Tips & Techniques

Probably the best thing about fall is the leaves. All those warm colors look amazing in landscapes or serve as a perfect backdrop for portraits. Want to make the best of this year’s fall and its colorful foliage? The 2021 Foliage Prediction Map will be your best friend!

The tool is pretty straightforward and intuitive to use: just move the slider under the map to a specific date, and the map will immediately show the fall foliage and what stage it will be at. There’s a color code in the top right, ranging from “no change” to “past peak.”

The leaf map’s creator is David Angotti of Smoky Mountains. His tool relies on a complex algorithm that carefully analyzes several million data points and outputs approximately 50,000 predictive data pieces. Some of the data points the algorithm processes include:

  • NOAA historical temperatures
  • NOAA historical precipitation
  • NOAA forecast temperatures
  • NOAA forecast precipitation
  • Historical leaf peak trends
  • Peak observation trends
  • Historical model outputs from previous years

“Similar to any meteorological forecast, leaf predictions will never be 100% accurate,” David explains. However, the tool has been around since 2013. So, he and his team are quite confident in the data sources, process, and algorithm. Also, this year there’s a novelty that will make the map even more accurate and reliable.

“For the first time ever, we plan to release a mid-season update in late September,” David explains. “By applying the mid-season update, we believe the accuracy and usefulness of the tool will be increased.” Other than the map itself, you’ll also find a bit of information about the reasons behind the changing colors of leaves. What I find particularly interesting is the chemistry behind the most common colors:

Another thing I found interesting is the way people use the foliage map. “The vast majority of individuals use the leaf map to check when leaves will peak near their home or for an upcoming trip,” David says. However, he’s heard of some other awesome ideas people had for using this tool over the years. These include planning an outdoor wedding, a grade-school teacher planning a trip to a nearby State Forest, and of course – planning a shoot.

“Each year, our customer service team fields hundreds of questions about where to view fall foliage,” David adds. “This year we are releasing a vetted list of the top places to view fall foliage in all 50 states.” The list identifies well over 100 fall viewing spots. So, if you’re planning a shoot this fall, you can find the nearest spot in your state. On the map website, you’ll also find some colorful illustrations, fall recipes, and even coloring sheets for your kids. Something for everyone! You can try out the map below:

“We love fall and want it to be fun and exciting for everyone,” David concludes. And indeed, the website is not only super-useful for photo-enthusiast and professionals, but also for everyone out there who enjoys this dreamy and colorful time of year. Make sure to check out the map here and take a look at everything else that the site has to offer. And I hope to see something similar made for Europe so I can plan my photo walks, too!

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