KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — Local arborists say our September weather, so far, is perfect for creating vibrant fall colors.
East Tennessee State University arborist Travis Watson is gearing up to launch his weekly fall foliage forecast next Thursday, but he says for now conditions are on track for colorful autumn scenery.
“Having the bright, sunny days during fall is going to really highlight those reds,” Watson told News Channel 11. “It gives the times for the sugars to build up in the leaves, and then those cool nights sort of trap that color in the leaf.”
Unlike forests in the northeastern United States, Watson said, the display in the Tri-Cities region won’t just exhibit shades of red.
“We have over 100 different species of plants, hardwood, deciduous trees in our forests so we get a mix of the yellows, the reds, and the oranges,” said Watson.
Though the leaves on ETSU’s campus are still bright green, the view from the Bays Mountain Dam has hints of red.
Longtime ranger Bob Culler says the leaves are changing earlier than ever as summers grow warmer and first frost dates move later.
“Back when I first started working here, we used to tell people the best time for fall color was about the second weekend of October,” Culler told News Channel 11. “Then it got to where it was the third weekend of October for a long time, and now it’s closer to the end of October and sometimes early November.”
Culler said it’s still early in the season to make definitive predictions about when fall colors will peak and end.
“It all depends on the weather,” Culler said. “If we get a lot of wind and or rain that can cause the leaves to fall before they really get a chance to change.”
Watson said he expects peak colors to come in around Oct. 1 at the higher elevations, like Roan Mountain, and in mid to late October in the Tri-Cities.