The peak of fall foliage is right on time in the High Country, but climate change could make it harder to predict when it will happen each year.

Mid-October. That’s when historically the leaves are their brightest colors of reds, oranges and golds, says Howard Neufeld, a biologist at Appalachian State University known as the “fall color guy.” 

This year is right on time, he says. The coming weekend into next week is when the foliage will be at its most vibrant in the High Country.

That peak may not be as predictable as it’s been in the past, Neufeld says. He looked at 16 years of data to find out how unusual it’s been for the date to shift. He says for the first several years, it almost always fell in the usual October range between the 10th and the 20th.

“But from 2017 on, it's all over the place," he says. "And, in fact, 2018 it was a good two weeks late. And it was a warm fall that year. And so the variability is — it's about twice as high now. So I think we're starting to see some impact of maybe incipient climate change here.”

Neufeld says how lustrous the colors will be depends on many factors, but he’s expecting this to be a good year because of the amount of rainfall the region has had.

The peak colors in the Triad should hit late October or early November, he says.



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