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Michigan fall color update: Week of Sept. 15

A few hints of color are starting to show up around the state. Those leaves will turn much faster in the weeks ahead
Michigan fall colors
Posted at 5:16 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 22:12:30-04

LANSING, Mich. — Here’s your weekly fall color update! As of Thursday, Sept. 15, there isn’t much new to report. Patchy colors are being spotted throughout the state of Michigan, but that’s about it!

Of course, after last year's lackluster fall foliage season, many are wondering what this year will bring. Let’s hope we get some pops of colors instead of pale yellows!

Weather plays a pretty big role. First and foremost, last year was an exceptionally warm fall across much of the state. September 2021 was more than four degrees above average in Lansing. October was a whopping eight degrees above average coming in as the third warmest on record for the Capital City. While that might be nice for outdoor plans and heating bills, it's not so nice for those vibrant reds and oranges many of us missed out on. We need crisp, cool nights to get those glowing leaves.

Best colors need cold
Best colors need cold

We’re also aware that, so far, this September is extremely warm as well. We’re halfway through the month and Lansing is already averaging 2.5° above normal with even hotter air on the way.

Due to climate change, fall is the fastest warming season in the state of Michigan. This year's Climate Prediction Center Seasonal Outlook shows that trend continues with a 40-50% chance of above normal temperatures. That includes the months of September, October, and November.

Seasonal outlook.png
Seasonal Outlook

Now, this isn't saying it'll be another year of mostly pale yellows, there is still a chance of normal and below normal temperatures, just much lower. Thankfully, the first day of fall is poised to bring us much cooler conditions.

Regardless, let's look at when we can expect the best splashes of color to dazzle our landscape. Some leaves have already been spotted starting to turn across much of the state. This is especially tru in the Upper Peninsula. The most color can be seen in the western half and in the higher elevations, which is to be expected. We'll be providing a detailed map that will be updated weekly. Here is what is expected for this weekend as of September 15th.

Michigan colors
Michigan colors as of Sept. 15th

We can also check the dozens upon dozens of cameras throughout Michigan. They don't show much at all just yet. Here is one from Northern Michigan University overlooking Marquette.

Marquette September 15th
The NMU camera overlooking Marquette shows mostly green leaves as of September 15th.

So, onto the big question. When is the peak of fall colors expected across the state? That date ranges drastically from year to year based on the weather. Not only climate such as daytime highs and lows, but also wind. One good storm system packing high winds can take us past peak almost overnight. Taking past years and the seasonal outlook into consideration, we can provide a general range for the best leaf peeping! It will likely be a week or so later than average this year, with lake shore areas holding out the longest thanks to the warmth from the water.

Expected peaks.png
Expected peak fall colors

We'll keep you posted on what the status of the colors is and where they are as we get further into the fall season. Please share your observations with us! We'll be sure to pass them along with others. Additionally, send your fall pictures to Chief Meteorologist Brad Sugden and they might end up in our newscasts!

Let's all cheer for some cooler temperatures and stunning fall foliage!

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