Foliage forecast: Drought may mute fall colors this fall! Here’s when to watch…

OHIO -- When you think of fall, the first thing that usually comes to mind is leaves changing to beautiful reds, oranges and yellows.

But the drought this year will probably have an enormous impact on the foliage in some areas of the U.S.

A lack of rain in the Northeast will cause many trees, especially shallow-rooted ones like maples or birches, to go into survival mode, "shutting down" early and preparing for winter.

**For a Fall Foliage Prediction Map from SmokyMountains.com, click here**

This stressful condition causes leaves to turn brown and fall off before they reach their peak color. The leaves that do change color will do so very briefly and with more muted colors than normal.

So we'll probably see fall colors earlier than usual this year, and they won't last as long as previous years.

However, not all areas of the Northeast will be drab. If you're looking for some good spots for foliage where the drought has not had a huge impact, consider the areas around Bangor, Maine, and Burlington, Vermont.

At the other end, Southern states such as Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee have been under an extreme drought, so their peak foliage may be briefer and less colorful.

Fall begins with the autumnal equinox at 10:21 a.m. Eastern on Thursday.

For our complete guide to fall fun -- like haunted houses, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and more -- in Northeast Ohio, click here.