Fall foliage preview for 2022

Fall foliage preview for 2022

Insight

Welcome to the Fall Foliage Report for 2022. Fall officially begins on Thursday, September 22 at 9:04 p.m. and the outlook for this year is positive. It’s hard to predict what kind of season Maryland will have, but there are a few factors that affect fall foliage, which helps us develop a scientific forecast. In western Maryland, we can already see the black gum tree leaves falling decorating the dark forest floor with pops of pink. There are similar reports from southern Maryland, where yellow poplars are also joining in as summer bids its last goodbye.

Black Gum Leaves – Photo: Melissa Carson, Maryland Park Service

The colors of the foliage, its duration and the start date of the show depend on the weather, mainly rainfall and temperature. For the most part, Maryland has avoided the drought conditions that have plagued the country this year. Having a normal or slightly above average rainfall situation bodes well for good fall foliage.

Various color changing leaves, yellow, red and brown

Southern Maryland Photos – Photo: Cristina V. Perez, Maryland Forest Service

Join us as we track the transition each week with reports from our experts in our forests and state parks. Back by popular demand, we invite all Maryland outdoor enthusiasts to send in photos capturing the beauty of the fall season. Please use the submission form to submit your applications directly to us. Your photo could be selected to appear in a future edition of the Fall Foliage Report!

The colors of the foliage, its duration and the start date of the show depend on the weather, mainly rainfall and temperature. For the most part, Maryland has avoided the drought conditions that have plagued the country this year. Having a normal or slightly above average rainfall situation bodes well for good fall foliage.

Map of Maryland: National Drought Mitigation Center
National Map: NOAA Climate Prediction Center

The other factor is temperature. The brightest leaf displays follow a period of warm, sunny days and cool nights. The leaves produce an abundance of sugars during sunny days. Cooler nights and the gradual narrowing of leaf veins in the fall mean that a majority of the sugars produced are trapped in the leaf. A richness of sugar and light in the leaf leads to the production of vivid anthocyanin pigments, which produce red, purple and crimson colors. The yellow and gold colors of the leaves are produced by carotenoid pigments, which are always present in the leaves and are therefore less dependent on the conditions. This year, temperatures from August to November are expected to be above normal, but nothing drastic.

Three-month temperature map: NOAA

Weather-wise, 2022 has been like 2021, so here’s a recap of what happened last year in every region of Maryland. There is no guarantee that this season will be the same, but since our weather situation was similar, this can serve as a good guide.


Western region

The western part of the state is the first to show signs of color. Last year, we started seeing changes in Garrett and Allegany counties in mid-September. Washington and Frederick counties soon followed in late September. At the beginning of October, we started to reach the high season in the Wild West. At the end of October, the western part of Maryland was at or near its peak. By early November, the show was over.

Sunrise over the Monroe Run Valley

Sunrise over Monroe Run


North-Central Region

The leaves began to change at the end of September. As of mid-October, colors were near peak in Carroll County, but most of the region was just changing. At the end of October we saw near peak conditions in the north. The first week of November saw the peak in Carroll and Baltimore counties, but Cecil and Harford counties had quickly passed the peak.

Autumn trees against a dark cloudy sky

Fair Hill NRMA


Southern region

As in the northern region, we saw no change until the end of September. The leaves didn’t change much until late October, with Anne Arundel and Prince George counties hitting the midpoint around October 21. All of southern Maryland was halfway through at the end of the month. We went quickly to the peak and then past the peak in mid-November.

St. Mary’s River State Park – Karl B.


eastern region

The east coast is where fall ends. The leaves probably won’t start changing until mid-October. The trend is north to south with Kent, Queen Anne, Caroline and Talbot counties beginning fall color. Dorchester will join in late October, but Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester tend to stay green. On Halloween, the color of the leaves really starts to change on the shore. You can see a full range in early November, making this a great day trip. At the end of November we saw peak conditions for the most part and the show ended by Thanksgiving.

Shoreline on the Choptank River

View from Bill Burton’s Fishing Pier

Remember, these are only predictions. To make forecasting even more complex, a single late-season storm can really ruin everything.


Fall Leisure Spotlight

There are plenty of events in Maryland during the fall season: corn mazes, pumpkin patch, food festivals, concerts, and more. We will be hosting an event each week and you can find out more on the Maryland Tourism website, visitmaryland.org

Maryland Tourism Website – visitmaryland.org

Watch the sky

We will continue to update you on celestial events throughout the fall. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and there’s plenty to see after the sun goes down. Expect a total lunar eclipse in November.

Photo: NASA


Pictures of liquidambar

“When summer picks up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, goes away.”

—Sarah Helen Whitman


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