(WAVY) – It’s that time of the year when the daylight hours are getting shorter and the air is getting cooler. Leaves are starting to change color and you may be wondering when is the peak time for this in your area. For much of the state of Virginia, it’s the middle of October, while areas closer to the water won’t see the best colors until the end of the month.

If you’re really looking for some good scenery with the fall colors, you’ll have to head to West Virginia to see those colors in the next two weeks.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) provides this key to Virginia trees and leaf colors:

ashyellow, maroon
beechyellow to orange
dogwoodscarlet to purple
hickorygolden bronze
oakred, brown or russet
poplargolden yellow
red maplebrilliant scarlett

VDOF even provides recommended Fall Foliage Driving Tours, designed by a Virginia forester. Click here for the complete list of suggested spots for the best “leaf peeping.”

Now for a little science: there are three factors that cause leaves to change their color:

  1. The pigments in the leaves. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color. Carotenoids produce yellow, orange and brown colors. Anthocyanins produce red, purple and crimson.
  2. Longer nights. As the nights get longer, the chlorophyll production slows and eventually stops.
  3. The weather. And because the weather is never the same each year, no two autumns are alike.

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