Fantastic Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Forecast!
Great Smoky Mountains Fantastic Fall Foliage Forecasted. Leaf peeping is always a Smoky Mountain special event! A fantastic display of fall foliage is predicted for The Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas.
Experts expect Mother Nature to dance a fiery flamenco across the Smokies, flinging her cloak of many colors and blazing a trail through Tennessee and North Carolina. All this is due, in part, to the unusually warm and wet conditions experienced in the mountains from spring through mid-summer and closer to normal rainfall in late July, according to a quote by Beverly Collis, Western Carolina University’s autumnal analyzer and fall color calculator. Collins, a professor of biology at WCU, utilizes her knowledge of forest ecology with weather trends to calculate the potential for a color-filled leaf-peeping season in the Western portion of North Carolina where color can appear, in some species, such as sumac and sourwood, in early September. According to Collins the long-term forecast that extends through October calls for average precipitation and warmer –than normal temperatures, “and, if the forecast holds, we should have our typical bright colors this year,” Collins was quoted as saying. However, color change is linked to cooler nights which result in less chlorophyll (green color) production in leaves, and Collins noted that if the forecast holds and those cooler nights are delayed, peak color might hold off until the last weekend of October in regions that are about 2,000 feet in elevations. And, Collins warned that big storms or a hurricane, which might send strong winds and heavy rains inland, could strip the leaves off the trees ahead of schedule.
Clingmans Dome is the perfect spot to get a bird eye view of all the fall color!
Autumn color travels down the mountain sides from high elevation to low in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but, there are so many variables that the exact dates of “peak” season are impossible to predict. And elevation is a major factor that determines when fall colors change, according to the National Park Service’s website which explained that “In higher elevations, where the climate is similar to New England’s, color displays may start in mid-September when yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry begin to change. Fall colors develop above 4,000 feet from early to mid-October.”
According to the Park Service, the fall color display usually reaches peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November with a spectacular display of kaleidoscopic-colored trees such as sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweet gum, red maple, and the hickories. The Park Service suggests leaf-peepers check out the drive along the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway.
Fall is a busy time in the Smokies, so plan your visit, lace up those boots, and make those reservations early.
The National Park Service’s Fall Color Facts
Why are fall colors so remarkable in the Smokies? The park is home to an amazing diversity of more than 100 species of native trees and the vast majority of these are deciduous.
How do colors change? As summer ends, the green pigments in leaves deteriorate, giving other colors a chance to shine. Carotenoids, the pigment that makes carrots orange and leaves yellow are exposed as the green fades. Reds and purples come from anthocyanins, a pigment that is formed when sugars in leaves break down in bright autumn sunlight.