Fall colors already emerging in Western Md. and West Virginia

The fall foliage season is well underway in the mountains west of Washington, and the next few weeks will be optimal time for leaf peepers. But inside the Capital Beltway, we’ll have to wait a while longer.

The latest fall foliage report shows Garrett County, Maryland, and the West Virginia Highlands are only two stages away from the best colors of the season. Snowshoe and Spruce Knob, West Virginia, are nearing their peak stages.

An optimal pattern is ahead for trees to showcase their best hues of yellow, orange and red, thanks to sunshine, light wind and chilly nights without a hard freeze, though there will be a moderate frost this weekend.

Expect the region to the west to see peak color between Oct. 10 and Oct. 15. That means you should plan your trip to the Allegheny Mountains for next weekend to see the best autumn has to offer.

Mid-Atlantic Fall Foliage
How is fall foliage in the Mid-Atlantic predicted to progress? The upcoming pattern shows the colors accelerating westward. (Courtesy Chad Merrill)

If you are overambitious to see the peak color, head to the West Virginia Allegheny Plateau this weekend. This highest elevation zone of the Mid-Atlantic usually peaks before the remainder of mountain Maryland and West Virginia.

You can also head to Snowshoe or Spruce Knob this weekend to scope out the best fall color before the leaves fall by mid-October.

But what about the remainder of the region?

You may notice a few trees starting to change color along and west of the Blue Ridge, including in Maryland’s Myersville, Hagerstown and Clear Spring, and in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

An emerging dry pattern with sunny days and cool nights will prove beneficial to the foliage season east of the Alleghenies. Combined with plentiful late summer to early autumn rainfall, the peak of the fall foliage season will be stunning. Expect the best fall foliage from Interstate 81 to the Blue Ridge between Oct. 15 and Halloween.

Fall colors will take until early November to reach peak color along and east of Interstate 95.

Any abnormally windy period or the approach of a tropical system could put a wrench in the season, but overall, this fall foliage season should be a winner for leaf peepers!

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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