Warm Weather Delays Annual Fall Foliage Peak

Warm Weather Delays Annual Fall Foliage Peak

10:55pm Oct 17, 2018
A recent view from Grandfather Mountain shows trees that are mostly still green. IMAGE COURTESY OF HOWARD NEUFELD.

Mid-October usually means the peak fall color season in the North Carolina mountains. But so far, the trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway are still mostly green.

By almost any measure, it’s been a weird weather year in North Carolina.  For the mountains, it’s been no different.

And it’s having an effect on the trees.

Howard Neufeld is a plant physiologist at Appalachian State University and an expert on fall foliage who writes the university's annual Fall Color Report.

Neufeld says in 11 years of watching the color change, he’s never seen it stay so green for so long. He puts most of the blame on temperatures that so far haven’t been fall-like.

”From the beginning of September to the first week through October, the low temperature for each day was nine degrees higher than normal,” he says. “So it’s been one of the most unusually warm falls we’ve ever had. And as a result, the trees think it is still summer, and they’ve just held onto their leaves and they just haven’t started to turn color.”

Neufeld says the autumn color change is about 10 days behind the typical schedule. With lower temperatures in the forecast, he’s hopeful fall foliage will begin in earnest over the next few days.

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