Mapping Fall's Advance

The first leaves of the year are turning just about now.

No, it's not too soon for a fall foliage map. The first leaves of the year are turning just about now. In a few days' time, trees in upstate New York, northern Minnesota, and in the higher parts of the Rocky Mountain states will have acquired their first autumnal hues. 

It's the modest beginning of the annual fall offensive, as deciduous trees gradually shift color from their summery shades of green to a riotous variety of yellow and orange, gold and red, brown and rust.

Those colors will gradually deepen and spread throughout almost the entire continental United States. Florida remains mainly unaffected, as are the coastal regions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas; and southern parts of California and Arizona.

This map, charting the change in the very colors of fall foliage, is reminiscent of the Japanese tradition to chart the "spring offensive" of the cherry blossoms (see #371). It's taken here from Roadtrippers, which offers tips for foliage tourism across the country.

To get a better perspective on the timing of the color changes, take a look at the composite map below, which shows the change on a per-week basis. These maps can be found here at The page goes into the science of the shifting colors, and quotes Albert Camus, existentialist writer and foliage appreciator: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

Strange Maps #736

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