Latest ‘Fall Color Guy’ & Climate Office Reports on Warm, Dry Weather & Fall Color

Published Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm
Conceived by Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow; Map Constructed by Michael Denslow

Conceived by Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow; Map Constructed by Michael Denslow

By Jesse Wood

Howard Neufeld, a biology professor at App State University who is known as the “Fall Color Guy,” cited the N.C. Climate Office’s summer recap and fall outlook post in his latest fall color update.

“The NC Climate Office predicts above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the rest of the year for the state,” Neufeld wrote yesterday. “That is both good and bad for fall color. Warm temperatures might delay the onset of the peak color, but just a few days (2-4) and could reduce the intensity of the red leaves, while the sunny days would have the opposite effect. Whether they cancel each other out is not yet known.”

The N.C. Climate Office mentioned that if dry weather conditions continue the colors “may not be quite as vibrant, and some trees may drop their leaves early.”

Earlier this week, Neufeld published his third weekly fall color report. He mentioned that he’s seeing tulip poplars “losing massive amounts of inner leaves” that turn yellow and blacken quickly, likely oxidizing.

“In years with adequate rainfall, tulip poplars hold on to their leaves later into the season, and near the end of a fall color season, stand as grand, yellow beacons against a gray, leafless hillside. But this year, I’m afraid that display may not come to be,” Neufeld wrote.

On a hike to Beacon Heights a few days ago, Neufeld said he saw red maples coloring, birches yellowing and sassafrasses showing an orange-red color. Last week, Neufeld mentioned – in addition to his concerns about the current weather’s potential affect on color – that urban maples, Virginia creeper, green ash and sugar maples were among trees beginning to turn.

Neufeld predicts that we’ll notice more changes on the hillsides at higher elevations, such as Grandfather Mountain:

“Then it will begin moving downhill and the true fall leaf color season will get into gear! Remember, at an elevation of 3,000’ to about 4,500’, the peak will be early to mid-October, especially in mountains north of Asheville up to the Virginia border. Lower elevations will peak in late October, and below 2,000’, in early November even.”

Click on the embedded links for more info and pictures.

Be sure to check out the latest, entire 1,100 word weekly fall color report here.

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