Weather Blog: Will this be a good fall foliage season?

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Next to snow, fall color has to rank at the top of my list of seasonal offerings.  2013 has been a very wet year here in the Piedmont and even wetter in the mountains.   This has led many people to ask me if we are going to have a dull or brilliant fall foliage season this year.

At this point, there is still time for it to go either way.   Wet years tend to be less brilliant than dry years.   However, if the weather is dry, the leaves tend to fall more quickly and the season shorter.  The key is going to be what happens in September.   If we see more dry weather and sunshine during the month, we could experience a very nice fall foliage that lasts longer than usual.   If we see above normal rainfall and clouds, it will likely be a dull season.   The latest September forecast is for above normal precipitation, but we can hope that forecast is wrong.

Either way, I have never seen a year when it wasn’t pretty in the North Carolina mountains during October.   Given the wide range of elevations in our hills, from 2000 to more than 6000 feet, it takes a while for peak color to work from the top of the highest mountains to the lowest valleys.

Below is a list of peak times that I have observed most years.   10-8-09_golf_wghp

Before October 7th

Above 5000 feet (Near the top of Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Mt Pisgah, Mt. Rogers, Whitetop, etc.).

Before October 12th

Above 4000 feet (Mount Jefferson,  much of the Blue Ridge Parkway…especially south of US 421 where elevations are higher and near Grandfather Mountain, etc.).

Before October 17th

Above 3000 feet (Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, West Jefferson cities and again much of the Blue Ridge Parkway….especially north of US 421 where it is a little lower).

Before October 22nd

Above 2000 feet (Asheville city….mountains around Asheville peak earlier, top of Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and Sauratown Mountain)

Before October 27th

Above 1000 feet (Mount Airy, Brushy Mountains of Wilkes county and base of Hanging Rock, Sauratown and Pilot Mountain).

Between October 27th and November 1st

Below 1000 feet (Triad cities and the Uwharrie Mountains south of the Triad).

This year if we can avoid a big wind storm or heavy rain in October, the leaves may last longer on the trees due to the wet spring and summer.   Again, I am not a leaf expert, but I happen to be a meteorologist that loves them and has been observing them for many years.

I have also tried to read up on as many articles as I can find to learn more to satisfy my own curiosity.

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