ETSU arborist: Peak fall color coming soon in highest elevations

Published 2:59 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

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From Roan Mountain and Mount Mitchell to Clingmans Dome and Mount LeConte, fall color is quickly increasing in the region’s most extreme elevations.
“Colors move down in elevation as we progress through October,” said Travis Watson, East Tennessee State University’s campus arborist. “As for a drive through the mountains, the second and third weeks of October should be an excellent time.”
Weather over the last six months has been mostly ideal for those who look forward to the parade of red, orange and yellow.
“The consistent rainfall over summer combined with cool nights and sunny days as we move into fall should provide good conditions for a vibrant color display,” he said.
A cool, wet spring resulted in a slightly delayed onset of autumn hues. In years past, for example, color in the highest elevations has been a bit more developed by this point.
Watson urged leaf peepers to keep a close eye on the weather, planning autumn excursions accordingly. A strong storm or high winds can significantly reduce the color display.
A bit of good news: Although forecasters have predicted an above-average hurricane season this year, current storm systems shouldn’t have much of an impact on the Appalachian Highlands.
Remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms can trigger severe weather in Northeast Tennessee and surrounding regions, bad news for vibrant fall color.
“The outlook for tropical storms and weather, for now, looks good for us provided new storms don’t develop,” said Watson.
ETSU offers a weekly fall color prediction every Thursday until the season ends. Look for it on ETSU’s social media channels, as well as ETSU News.

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