Fall Color Report

Post date: 09/15/2011
 It's still fairly early for fall color here in the High Country, but starting soon leaves will begin to change. Already fall colors are underway in the northeast, in Maine and Minnesota, and working their way south. Our fall color times correspond closely with those in New York State, and so will swing into gear at the end of this month, and reach their peak in mid-October. This week's essay (DOCX, 143 KB) is on this past summer's weather and whether that will affect fall color this season. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Post date: 08/29/2011
 This week begins the first of many weekly postings on the status of fall foliage colors for fall 2011 in the High Country. Of course, most trees are still green right now, but as I reported in my blog last week, sugar maples up and down the east coast are changing early this year for some unknown reason. It could be that our unusually warm summer had something to do with that, but no one knows for sure. Next week, I'll report on some official weather statistics for this summer in the High Country in order to put this summer into perspective. Each week, starting in mid-September, my...
Post date: 11/01/2010
 Well folks, we are nearing the end of this year's fall color leaf season in the mountains. Here in the High Country of Boone, Blowing Rock and Jefferson, most of the leaves have fallen off. Some red maples are still turning brilliant red, but they are mostly restricted to urban trees. The oaks peaked last week, and went from burgundy-red to their more typical brown. The only tree yet to peak, and which is consistently the last tree to turn each year, is the ubiquitous street tree, the Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana). This tree, which is planted both for its abundant white flowers in...
Post date: 10/25/2010
 As we move into the last week of October, I am impressed that there is still some fall leaf color to be seen in the Boone area. Even though the peak colors came and went with unprecedented rapidity, other colors have gradually built up and are persisting, giving the landscape a more orange-yellow perspective. Although the upper ridges above 3,500' are now mostly defoliated, there are still splashes of color in protected coves, and on the lower slopes. There are still the occasional patches of red, particularly a developing deep burgundy from the abundant oak species. Reaching their peak...
Post date: 10/18/2010
 Fall colors have peaked in the Boone area, although they are still quite pretty and worth the drive up for at least another week. On the higher ridges and exposed hillsides, the recent rain and high winds brought down many of the leaves, so the best colors are in protected areas, and at slightly lower elevations. The major change from last weekend to this one has been the continued coloration by the maples and the beginning of coloration by the red, scarlet, pin and black oaks (Quercus rubra, coccinea, prinus and velutina). When you see individual trees in the woods that are a dark...
Post date: 10/11/2010
 For the last two weeks, we've been lamenting how slow leaf colors were changing. Well, forget that! Over the past five days, colors have, how shall I say, exploded, popped, erupted, or whatever word you want use! Between Boone and Linville, all along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trees are nearing their peak color. This week up to the coming weekend should be the peak display for the northern section of the mountains.The most vibrant displays are coming from sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) which is a deep, rich red, as are most of the flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida). Red maples (Acer...
Post date: 10/03/2010
 Have you ever felt sometimes that time has stood still? That's what seems to have happened this past week with respect to fall color change in the mountains. Your fall color prognosticators are all in agreement that leaf color is in about the same stage this week as last week. This is probably attributable to that warm period we had (which tends to delay color development) and to the rains. Remember, the best color development occurs when we have sunny days and cool nights, and the upcoming forecast seems favorable for good fall leaf color: most of the rest of the week is supposed to be...
Post date: 09/27/2010
 The wave is coming! No, not the one you see in stadiums, or at the beach. Rather, I'm referring to the wave of fall leaf color. It's currently moving south into our area from the Blacksburg, VA region. I estimate we should see good color at the highest elevations (above 4,000') this coming weekend and then at slightly lower elevations (3,000') the weekend after that. For now, most of our forests are still predominantly green, but patches of color are peaking through now, and will continue to build in intensity for the next two-three weeks.This week, we are finally getting a break from...
Post date: 09/19/2010
 Summer officially ends this Tuesday, and your fall color prognosticators are geared up again to begin reporting on this year's fall display in the North Carolina Mountains. We have formed an informal Fall Color Prognostication Society (FCPS) in order to better cover the mountains in North Carolina, from the Virginia border in the north, to Murphy and Joyce Kilmer in the far southern regions of our state. Our membership includes Dr. Jim Costa, Director of the Highlands Biological Station in Highlands, Drs. Kathy Mathews and Beverly Collins, both in the Biology Department at Western...
Post date: 08/29/2010
 Well, this past year has certainly been one for the books! We had a snowy winter here in Boone, but interestingly, no record cold temperatures or record snowfalls. We had an ice storm to beat all ice storms on Christmas Day which caused millions of dollars in damage from downed and broken tree limbs, not to mention lost tourism because of the impassable roads. In some places here in the High Country, snow stayed on the ground continuously from mid-December to mid-March, which is extremely unusual.Then, after a warm April, we began our record setting warm summer. In fact, according to...