Leaf-peeping is a letdown in eastern US

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- Doyle Rice

Although the fall foliage season has been a dud so far in parts of the East, leaf-peepers in the western USA are enjoying a superb season.

In the East, fall color in the traditiona­lly gorgeous northern and central Appalachia­ns has been “a big disappoint­ment,” AccuWeathe­r meteorolog­ist Dale Mohler said. In some spots, the leaves went from green to brown, then fell from the tree.

“It’s not a good year,” he said. The cause? Blame it on the weather, particular­ly the worst-case combinatio­n of unusually warm and wet conditions, Mohler said. Even though it has chilled down recently, most of the eastern U.S. saw an extremely warm September and early October.

As for rain, the late summer and early fall has been one of the wettest on record, he said. Ideally, cooler, drier weather is best for lovely foliage.

An example of the poor foliage can be found in western Maryland: This

week, green and brown dominate across the region, said Melissa Nash, a Garrett County, Maryland, forester.

In New England and the Adirondack­s, areas that saw a drier summer overall, the leaves have been more colorful, though peak color is nearly over. “The fall color change has been running at least a week behind schedule so far this season,” said AccuWeathe­r meteorolog­ist Brett Anderson.

In the Southeast, not typically a foliage hotbed anyway, “many locations have been affected by anthracnos­e, a fungus that affects maple, ash and some oak species,” according to the Foliage Network. “This fungus causes the leaves to turn brown, curl up and fall from the tree.”

The Great Lakes and Midwest have “been a little bit better” than an average season, Mohler said. In many spots, however, colors haven’t peaked yet. In southern Indiana, tourists visiting rustic Brown County found its typically vivid fall foliage still hasn’t materializ­ed and called the viewing “lackluster.”

But the West has been “pretty good,” Mohler said. Though many higher elevations are past peak, lower elevations are seeing prime conditions now.

In western Washington, “weather conditions will likely make this year’s color more vibrant than usual,” KCPQTV reported.

In Southern California, “a painter’s palette of lime, yellow, orange and red is daubing the San Bernardino mountains with vibrant peak color,” according to the website California Fall Color, which includes the tagline “Dude, autumn happens here too.”

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