Spectacular Fall Color Expected This Year For WNC
All signs are currently pointing to beautiful and vibrant color this fall for all of WNC. With limited rainfall across the area for the past month, I believe that we are set for a special fall. Below you can see my projection map for when locations around WNC will see peak color. I expect color to peak around Asheville on the week of October 21st-28th, and I am forecasting an 8/10 on the AshevilleWX Vibrancy Scale.
For higher elevations, leaves will change before valley locations.. and many locations above 5500’ will begin to see peak color around October 1st. This would include locations like Mount Mitchell, and Roan Mountain, just to name a few. Clingman’s Dome, and even Grandfather Mountain will begin to peak on the week of September 30th-October 6th.
During the peak week of October 7th-October 13th, locations like Graveyard Fields, and Linn Cove Viaduct will begin to peak, as well as many of the leaves around Boone, NC. In SW WNC Wayah Bald will begin to peak in this time frame, along with the Cherohala Skyway.
From October 14th-October 21st many of the mountains around the immediate Asheville area will begin to peak. That includes Mt. Pisgah, and surrounding peaks. Locations like Looking Glass Rock which can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway will be embroidered in fall attire during this week, and I expect this to be one of the busiest if not the busiest week of the year on the Parkway Also, some locations like Maggie Valley, and Mars Hill will begin to see colors peaking late this week.
Asheville and surrounding valleys located at 2000’ will begin to see peak fall color from October 21st-October 28th. This week is when the majority of the population in WNC will see trees peaking in their backyards. Locations like Franklin, Waynesville, & even portions of Hendersonville will see peak color during this week. If you are planning a trip to Asheville, this is the week to book.
Locations like Brevard & Lenoir tend to peak a few days after Asheville, and therefore I am expecting their peak to be in the coming days after October 29th. As you progress towards Charlotte, and elevation decreases, the peak day will progressively get later. This map is to help you plan your trip to the mountains of WNC, and decide where you should travel on your stay to see vibrant leaf color!
Science Behind Why Leaves Change Color
Why Will Colors Be Vibrant This Year?
There are several factors in which a meteorologist has to consider when putting together a fall foliage outlook. One main thing to take into consideration it the amount of rainfall that the area has received leading up to Autumn. During the beginning of the year, we were on pace with our record year last year, but we have since fallen off that pace. This early rainfall allowed tree canopies to flourish, and there is a healthy crop of leaves on trees around WNC currently. With limited rainfall over the past two month, this has set the leaf crop up to die at typical dates. I do not expect an early or a late change, but I do expect a vibrant one with lots of florescent colors.
Tropical moisture can throw off a leaf forecast, and that cannot be rule out over the next 21 days. Many models indicate that some sort of tropical system could affect the Southeast in the coming 14 days, so that needs to be watched. These storms effectively blow leaves off of trees, and the excessive moisture they bring can dampen colors somewhat. This is an unknown moving into mid October, and is the reasoning behind my rating of 8 for this year on the Vibrancy Scale, compared to a 9 or 10.
Another caveat is cooler temperatures during the evenings and nights. Temperatures need to dip into the 50’s on a regular basis for trees to begin to close off leaves access. Below you can see the most recent 15 day forecast for temperatures around WNC. A pattern change is coming, and cooler temperatures are on the way! Several models indicate that highs next week will only be in the 70’s around Asheville and then we will dip into the low to mid 50’s each evening. This would be perfect weather in my opinion for leaves to begin the process of change.
I am projecting fall color to be right on time this year compared to average, and I am expecting fall color to be an 8/10 on the Vibrancy Scale. There are a few things that could spoil this forecast, such as an impactful tropical system that moves through WNC, between now and the peak date for your location. I will keep you updated on the progression, and make changes to this forecast if necessary!
Plan Your Excursion
Looking to plan your trip through the mountains of WNC? Visit RomanticAsheville.com for an in depth travel guide to Asheville & the surrounding area!