Record-breaking heat, dry weather could impact fall foliage


(WJHL)- You may not see as much of the vibrant fall colors this fall season.

News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant found out that record-breaking heat and limited rainfall could impact those colors this year.

Keith Kelley with the Watauga Ranger District of the National Forest Service said the many types of oak trees in the Tri-Cities region usually provide onlookers with the most vibrant leaves.

However, Kelley said due to the lack of rain in our region, the soil has become dry and the leaves may go straight from green to brown.

“The trees are producing chlorophyll throughout the year and that’s what causes the leaves to be green, and when they go into a dormant season they stop producing chlorophyll and start losing the green part of the leaves, and it transitions slowly over time until they turn brown and die and fall. So we’re starting to see with extreme heat and drought conditions a lot of them are shutting down faster than they normally would,” said Kelley.

Kelley also told Kristen that higher elevations and areas with richer soil will see more color, but that it may not last as long as it typically does.

Frank Rice has been a camp host for nine years at Rock Creek Campground in Cherokee National Forest.

He said he’s used to seeing bright colors in the tree leaves this time of year but this year that’s not the case.

“There’s not any color to them at all they’re just all brown. All the poplars are done sheded,” said Rice.

Rice said that even though the leaves aren’t changing colors, it’s not stopping people from wanting to camp in the park.

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