It has been Autumn since last month but it hasn’t felt like Fall until relatively recently, as is usual in Arkansas.
But now that the weather has taken a turn towards the crisp. it means other signs of Fall have begun to emerge.
Pumpkin Spice for one is now available at your preferred local coffee shop, but, more importantly, the leaves have begun to change and that’s the point.
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That glorious color is beginning to show and now is the time to start planning those outings.
David Angotti, the founder at SmokyMountains.com, said his site has a “predictive fall map” that allows users to gaugewhen and where leaves will be at peak fall color.
“In order to accurately predict fall, our model ingests a multitude of data sources including historical precipitation, NOAA precipitation forecasts, elevation, actual temperatures, temperature forecasts, and average daylight exposure to develop a baseline fall date for each county in the continental United States,” he wrote in an email. “Next, the model consumes hundreds-of-thousands of additional data points from a variety of government and non-government sources and layers this data over our own historical data from past years. Finally, with a high degree of accuracy, the algorithm produces nearly 50,000 date outputs indicating the progression of fall for every county in a graphical presentation that is easy to digest.
The map, seen below, can be viewed by clicking here.
Below is the prediction for next Monday, Oct. 17.
You can see that northwest Arkansas is in partial territory while central Arkansas is minimal.
It is only going to get better as temperatures drop across Arkansas’s 19 million acres of forest, or about 56 percent of the state, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
That survey said Arkansas has roughly 11.8 billion trees, and of those, 42 percent are oak or hickory, and the leaves of deciduous trees are where the color comes in. Hickory goes yellow, while oak can be a bright red, with some some copper or yellow.
What Arkansas doesn’t have are many maple trees and the brilliant bright red leaves they produce.
Angotti notes that his map is a prediction, and, like the weather, it doesn’t always work out exactly.
“Similar to any meteorological forecast, leaf predictions will never be 100 percent accurate,” he said. “However, after publishing our predictive fall foliage map for nearly a decade, we are quite confident in our data sources, process, and algorithm. Our experience combined with a scheduled mid-season update has us especially confident about this year’s predictions. Our goal is that this data-based, interactive tool will increase the number of people that are able to enjoy peak fall in 2021.
He also noted using the map is fun and “it's kind of addictive,” which is very true.
To help improve the map and its predictions, Angotti said, readers could submit their observations by clicking here. The online form is three questions and takes just a couple of minutes to submit.
The site also produced what it called the “Ultimate Leaf Peeping Guide” and where the best place is in all 50 states to see fall foliage.
The list can be viewed by clicking the top places to view fall foliage and includes three places in Arkansas:
Devil’s Den State Park, near Winslow
Mount Magazine State Park, south of Paris
Talimena National Scenic Byway, near Mena
All three locations are easy enough drives from central Arkansas. Closer to home, and while they didn’t make the cut, personal experience says Pinnacle Mountain State Park in west Little Rock can be glorious.