PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The official start of fall is now just weeks away – so too are the fall colors that come with cooler and wetter weather in Pacific Northwest.

Fall colors can start creeping their way into Oregon and Washington as early as the start of September. Summer heat and rainfall patterns throughout the summer season help influence the onset of vibrant colors across the region.

The KOIN 6 Weather team is forecasting fall colors to turn first in the higher elevated locations of the Cascades and Coast Range. Colors will also appear sooner farther north due to the rapid drop in daylight hours found in northern Washington. The higher elevated locations are prone to cooler temperatures and more shade from hillsides that will help the autumn color transition begin sooner.

Oregon and Washington’s forecast peak fall foliage map 2023 (KOIN 6 Weather)

Track the fall colors across the country day by day this year

Portland could start seeing some of the first pops of color by the end of September. The peak of the fall foliage, or when the most fall colors are visible won’t be until the middle to end of October in Portland.

Scorched leaves after Portland sees multiple days with 100 plus degree heat in August of 2023

Scorched leaves and drought impacts can already be seen on some trees across the state of Oregon and Washington. The stretch of triple-digit heat seen in Portland in August did a number on a variety of trees. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “a late spring, or a severe summer drought can delay the onset of fall colors by a few weeks.” They explained the soil moisture and differing summer temperatures from year to year make each autumn season unique.

Parts of Oregon and Washington see severe drought return to the area as of September 4, 2023

Oregon and Washington have experienced the onset of drought and leaf damage this summer season. Thankfully, recent rainfall may help to turn the fall color outcome around this autumn season, giving trees enough nutrients to show off. Weather plays a small role in the time when trees shed their green, but it’s primarily dictated by the shorter days and longer nights, explained by the U.S. Forest Service.

  • A pop of color from a Japanese Maple in the Portland Japanese Garden as seen by KOIN 6 Meteorologist Josh Cozart

Share your fall photos with the KOIN 6 Weather team here!