Fall Color Report

Post date: 10/07/2019
 A cool front came through late Friday evening, socking in the mountains in a cloud/fog (fog is just a cloud on the ground). There wasn't much rain with this front, but temperatures did drop about 20 degrees. However, the night time lows didn't get as low as I would have liked them to due to the persistent cloud cover, which traps heat close to the ground. Nonetheless, these lower temperatures are very welcome. I would like to see them drop even further.Colors are starting in isolated locations. The ridges below Stack Rock, on the east flank of Grandfather Mt., are showing some nice...
Post date: 10/01/2019
 I went to Elk Knob State Park this morning to check out the colors there. Because this park rises up to 5,520’ elevation, there can be dramatic differences in the degree of fall color display since elevation exerts such a strong influence on the timing of peak color. I was surprised to see substantial color development beginning this weekend – isolated maples were showing up against a mostly green background, along with birches and beech and tulip poplars. We are definitely in the beginning stages of fall color development. And we’re on time, something I attribute to the cool mornings...
Post date: 09/23/2019
Yesterday, Saturday, Sep 21, I went to Grandfather Mt as part of a social outing for the PIedmont Chapter of the American Chemical Society and also to scout out the fall leaf colors.Colors are starting to appear at the highest elevations. Out of scale of 1-10, I'd say the colors are between 1 and 2 now, but they are definitely visible to the eye.Mt. Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) fruits are on full display - a brilliant red-orange color that is spectacular when viewed against an azure sky. Last year was a bad year this species, with few if any fruits, but they have rebounded this year. They will be...
Post date: 09/17/2019
  Went hiking at Flat Rock and Beacon Heights today with my daughter Gabriela and her dog, Mila. Forests are still green, but if you look closely at the summit of Grandfather Mountain, you can just see the beginnings of some yellowing at those high elevations. A lot of the color change I saw today is being caused more by drought than by cool temperatures. We haven't had significant rain now in about 4-5 weeks.In particular, tulip poplars are dropping their leaves now - they turn yellow and then fall off. Same for birches. And sassafras has turned colors at least a month ahead...
Post date: 11/06/2018
For the final Fall Color Report,  I traveled east and down in elevation to Stone Mountain State Park, in North Carolina (https://www.ncparks.gov/stone-mountain-state-park). It was my first trip to this 14,500-acre gem of a park, and I would encourage all of you reading this not to wait 31 years to visit it as I have done! This is one of the prettiest parks in the state and the views from the top are spectacular. There are also waterfalls, but I didn’t have time to visit them (I had to get back and cook my New England clam chowder for the family – made from scratch!). But I will be coming...
Post date: 10/29/2018
  This is the peak weekend for fall colors in the High Country, some two weeks later than normal. Unfortunately, for many of you, Saturday was a bust, with rain and wind. However, today, Sunday, was quite nice, with clear blue skies up to about 3 pm, at which time the clouds moved in. Peak colors should persist for a few more days but by next weekend will be past in the High Country. Also unfortunately, peak colors does not mean great fall color. This year has been one of the least colorful fall displays ever, primarily due to the unusually warm temperatures in September and...
Post date: 10/23/2018
 Today started off dreary and drizzly, but by noon, it began to clear up. However, as the skies cleared, the winds picked up, and throughout the day, we were buffeted by strong gusts. Of course, this took some leaves off the trees, especially those that had started to turn color. That’s sort of been the story here this fall – just about everything that could go wrong for good fall color has happened this year: I said for good fall color we needed cool, sunny weather, starting in September. Instead, we had record warmth and excess rain and clouds. I said we needed to avoid rainstorms...
Post date: 10/15/2018
 Today was the Fall Foliage Ramble up on Grandfather Mountain. I gave a talk on the natural history and science of fall colors at 2 pm in the auditorium at the Nature Museum. There were also exhibits by a number of groups, including the North Carolina Native Plant Society, represented by local chapter chair Dr. Annkatrin Rose. I’d like to thank Gabe Duff and Amy Renfranz, from the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, for inviting me up to speak. It was windy, cloudy and cool in the morning, but by 2 pm the weather calmed down and there were deep blue skies, low humidity, and...
Post date: 10/09/2018
 The warm weather has persisted all week and is predicted to continue into next week. So far, this is the warmest fall on record for the mountains of North Carolina. Because of this, the fall foliage colors are very much delayed. I went hiking at Elk Knob State Park and it was still mostly green, even at the top, which is at 5,520’ elevation. I’m worried that if the warm weather carries on for another week or two it might result in a very poor fall color season. Already, some trees have dropped their leaves without changing color. Others may do the same over the next two weeks. The...
Post date: 10/02/2018
With permission, I am sharing this from Mark File's RomanticAsheville website. Look at the difference in the fall leaf color between 2014 and this year for September 28th. Quite amazing. Thanks to Mark for finding these amazing photos.I received a note from the NC Climate Office  and they say that in Sep we have had minimum temperatures averaging about 7F above normal, and max temperatures above normal, although not by that much. Washington, DC has had it's rainiest and near warmest Sep in history. All of these factors combine to delay the onset of fall leaf color. Departures...