PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – While so many other things about 2020 have been strange, a seasonal favorite is arriving right on schedule.
Pennsylvania’s fall foliage is an annual show put on by mother nature and the experts say this year is shaping up to be one of the best.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources each year tracks the changing leaves. This time around David Planinsek from the Division of Forestry says the colors are brilliant.
“In particular this weekend I think a great place to send you would be the higher elevations of the Laurel Highlands,” Planinske said. “I was just there this morning and visited there. And I can tell you at the leaves are beautiful as of today, and will only continue to get better, through this weekend.”
So where should you point your GPS? Planinsek says:
“So we’re looking at Western Westmoreland County. All of Somerset County will see really peak conditions this week and in western Fayette County. So we’re talking about Laurel ridge and chestnut reasons, those are the higher elevations. And obviously elevation has a little bit to play with the leaves changing you’re gonna get cooler temperatures, and we’ll see an earlier leaf peak there up to two weeks earlier than we would in surrounding lowlands like Allegheny County and Western Westmoreland Washington and Green County.”
That pathway of color extends from Uniontown all the way up into Armstrong and Indiana Counties which are also nearing their peaks as we approach the coming weekend.
The peak is also approaching in the Central Northern Tier counties along the New York border and dipping down into Elk and Clarion counties as well. That should make the Allegheny Forest a prime spot for the next couple of weekends.
Closer to home, you’ll still have time to shop for your apple cider before the color barrage hits the Pittsburgh region.
“Some of those lower elevation areas, we’re going to see peaks later in October, so probably beginning the third week in October, maybe around October 21 in those areas should continue peak color through the remainder of October.”
And as you head north towards Erie…
“We may see better color that way. Typically, for the further north we go you are going to see more color progression already happening in Pennsylvania.”
The coming cooler temperatures this weekend will also play a roll in color development.
“We’ve had great weather conditions for fall color development,” he explains. “I always say every fall in Pennsylvania is beautiful. This fall of 2020 has been particularly bright and brilliant colors because of the great weather that we’ve had so when I talk about great weather for fall color development, I’m talking about cool crisp nights and warm sunny days and as you know that’s been the norm is sort of in southwestern Pennsylvania over the last several weeks. So that allows for a brilliant color display and really bright color development and we’re seeing that this year.”
But a word of caution, the dryer weather has created a fire risk in the woods.
It also means some types of trees might lose their leaves earlier and that could shorten the fall color season.
Also, keep an eye on Hurricane Delta as it moves up from the Gulf Coast. If any storm brings in high winds and heavy rains the colors of the fall may end up on the ground sooner than expected.