Fall Color Report

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...
Post date: 10/01/2018
I am back from my two-day foray to the Smokies and my trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. To get right to the point of my fall color postings I can state that everywhere and I mean everywhere, along the Parkway, the dominant color was GREEN. Usually by this time of the year, the upper elevations above 5,000' have significant color, and these high elevations often show their peak color at this time. However, this year, color development is way behind normal. Only some birches and mountain maples have started to change in a significant manner, and then only in isolated patches here and there.I'll...
Post date: 09/24/2018
After a week off due to Hurricane Florence I am back on this last day of summer with a new report on fall leaf colors. How quickly the summer came and went! Fall begins at exactly 9:40 pm on Saturday evening, as I write this. And it is amazing how the colors have come out just in the last two days, as if Mother Nature has flipped the color switch on this week, just in time for fall. Two days ago, you would have been hard pressed to find much color in the woods. But today, it is apparent all throughout the High Country. It is absolutely astounding just how quickly the trees can produce color!...
Post date: 09/10/2018
This week has been almost a near repeat of last week, with slightly above average temperatures and sporadic precipitation. The NOAA long-range forecast has a 33% chance of slightly above normal temperatures through November. Remember, for the best fall colors September should be cool and sunny. Now that we are halfway through September, and it’s still warm, I’m going to make my first comment on potential fall leaf color and say that it may not be the highest quality, but premised on the fact that it remains warm the rest of this month.Last year, we had oscillations between cool and warm...
Post date: 09/04/2018
This week has been quite warm, with above average temperatures. We’ve also had sporadic rain storms, including yesterday and today. My wife and I got rained out of our hike to Beacon Heights on Saturday, but we managed to squeeze in the Flat Rock Trail before the heavens gave way. Today we had rain from 9 am until the early evening, including a whopper thunderstorm. This year has had interesting weather – we get thunderstorms, but with very little wind; just drenching rains. Last year, I had to water plants on my front patio about every other day. This year, since May, I’ve only watered...
Post date: 08/28/2018
 The days are getting shorter and the mornings cooler. This past week, after a cold front moved in from the upper Midwest, our morning temperatures dropped to the low 50s and in some places as low as 45F! Perfect temperatures for getting the trees to start changing color.In Boone, some of the planted red maples (Acer rubrum) and burning bushes (Euonymous alata) are starting to develop their characteristic red coloration. Urban street trees generally turn earlier than trees in the forests outside town. This is most likely due to genetic selection for street trees that provide vivid fall...
Post date: 08/20/2018
We’re still officially in summer, and in some areas, this time of the year is often referred to as the dog days of summer. However, “officially”, the dog days run from July 3rd to August 11th and while it is hot out, we are past that end date. While we tend to associate late summer days with dogs purportedly going crazy from the heat, in fact, the term ‘dog days’ arises because these times coincide with the rising of the dog star, Sirius. In ancient times, this was associated with wars and disasters, but the modern meaning, as we know it, didn’t begin to come around until about 500 years ago...
Post date: 08/09/2018
Welcome back to another fall leaf color season! It’s been somewhat of a rough going these past two years, but hopefully things will turn around this year. So far, the weather is cooperating. We haven’t had extremely high temperatures, nor any serious droughts in the mountains. The latest climate report for NC is posted below from the NC Climate Office: (http://climate.ncsu.edu/climateblog?id=262&h=a71a1169).  I haven’t seen any signs of major diseases on trees, although this year the tent caterpillars are having quite a show, mainly on black cherry trees. You may have noticed their...