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Fall Color Predictions!

Posted on October 1, 2021

Article from MLive, read full article HERE.

Fall color will eventually happen in Michigan. However, the warmer than normal temperatures will continue to slow the fall color progression.

Fall color is brought on by chilly morning temperatures and reduced sunlight. Reduced sunlight can come from either later sunrises and earlier sunsets, and/or a long stretch of cloudy weather.

Of course, the shortening days always happen, and colder mornings eventually always happen. Therefore, fall color won’t be held off forever.

But the weather pattern over the next 10 days will have most days and nights several degrees warmer than normal. Sunshine is also going to be more common than cloudiness. In fact, look at the low temperature forecast for the next 10 days.


Low temperature forecast each morning from September 29 to October 7

The Upper Peninsula will have some mornings cooling into the low-to-mid 40s. That is certainly cool enough to help fall color develop. Even as i write this, Michigan Weather Facebook Group member Cheryl Sibole says, “In Michigamme the color is starting to rapidly change. Definitely over 50 percent.” Michigamme is inland in the western U.P., west of Marquette.

So it looks like there is no stopping the western U.P. fall color. Fall color should peak in the western U.P. by October 7. Plan a trip to the western U.P. for about seven to 10 days from now. And here is my favorite color tour tip- don’t go too early. If you trust my range of peak dates, take the later end of the range. The worst feeling in a color tour is to show up to green leaves. We love green in spring, but we want orange and red in fall.

Here was my first forecast for peak fall color for this fall 2021. It still seems to be accurate, but use the last date in the range, not the earliest date.

fall color

MLive/Mark Torregrossa estimated peak fall colors for 2021, produced on September 9, 2021. As of September 28, an updated tip is to plan a trip on the latest date of the estimated peak color range. (Mark Torregrossa/MLive)

You will likely even be able to see peak fall color across the U.P. a couple of days after my last date in the range. October 7, plus or minus a few days, would be a good time to stare your way across the U.P.

Northern Lower is slow to change this year. That was anticipated in my early September fall color forecast, given the expected warmer than normal conditions into late September. I would now add three days to the peak viewing time in northern Lower Michigan, bringing peak color in the week centered around October 13.

up color

CR-510 Bridge area in Negaunee, MI on September 28, 2021. (Photo provided by Cheryl Sibole)

The southern half of Lower Michigan will have a tough time being much later than the dates shown on the graphic below. By late October there just isn’t enough daylight to keep the leaves from changing color.

Use just a slight tweaking to the anticipated peak fall color date. Have a little patience. You can start the fall color tour in the western U.P. this weekend, and then have your hands full deciding where to go each weekend through October. I’ll help you with that.

One more note- Many of the fall color predictions I saw, using unknown forecasting techniques, have been way too early.