(WJHL) – As temperatures cool off and the days get shorter, fall lovers wait on one of the most colorful events in nature – the changing of the leaves.

SmokyMountains.com has launched its 2021 Fall Foliage Prediction Map, an interactive tool that shows the predicted time of peak seasonal colors in each county across the country.

“The 2021 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves,” the site states. “While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.”

According to the map, some Northeast Tennessee counties will see peak foliage as early as Oct. 4. All of Southwest Virginia and the remaining Northeast Tennessee counties will see their peak the week of Oct. 11.

By Oct. 18, the map predicts the region will have passed its peak time for the vibrant colors on the trees.

The website also includes information on the science of leaves changing their colors. To learn why some leaves turn red while others turn yellow, click here.

Storm Team 11 Predictions

Weather conditions do influence fall colors and often make the difference between a vibrant fall color season versus a lackluster fall color season.

One important ingredient to vibrant color is sufficient rainfall through the summer season. Too much rain and very dry conditions can stress the trees and therefore limit the amount of color. In 2021, our rainfall has been very close to average through the summer season. Although it has been relatively dry the last few weeks, we are on target for the right amount of rain given the time of year.

By the end of September into October, ideal weather is dry with mild days and clear and cool nights. These conditions help to enhance the fall color change. Typically, peak color follows the first frost of the season. This is why the mountains always see peak color earlier than the valleys. We live in the perfect location to see the different stages at different elevations simultaneously.

On average, peak color occurs in the mountains during the first week of October. In the Tri-Cities, peak color occurs during the 3rd week of October. This is, of course, just a general rule as color change could occur sooner with a cold blast of fall air early in the season, and warm weather can delay the fall color change.