(WJHL) — Smokymountains.com released its annual interactive map that allows users to determine when to expect the most vibrant fall colors based on location.
The map shows that Northeast Tennessee began seeing a minimal change in the color of the leaves beginning in mid-September, and the colors will continue to evolve until the leaves reach their peak foliage toward the end of October and early November depending on elevation.
“While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year,” the website states.
By Nov. 7, the region will likely be past its peak foliage, according to the map.
Below the interactive map, Smoky Mountains National Parks revealed the science behind the change in hue and eventual fall of leaves from deciduous trees, describing the annual process as a sort of protection for the trees during the cold winter months.
“In order to cope with the grueling winter temperatures, trees slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves with a layer of new cells that form at the base of the leaf stem, protecting the limbs and body of the tree,” the website states. “Once the process of new cell creation is complete, water and nutrients no longer flow to and fro from the leaf – this enables the leaf to die and weaken at the stem, eventually falling gracefully to the ground.”
Fallen leaves eventually return to the Earth and provide nutrients and water to trees and plants.