By Harley Nefe
The leaves in the High Country have been continuing to explode with color this week.
Appalachian State University Biology professor Howard Neufeld, who is better known as the “Fall Color Guy” on Facebook, has been one source keeping the public informed about fall leaf colors.
In a post he published on Oct. 5, Neufeld said due to moderate temperatures since August and in September, he believes peak color will arrive near normal times. In addition, because there has been a lack of drought, the trees are retaining their leaves well into the season, meaning there are a lot of leaves that will turn colors.
“Sometime between (October) 12th and 18th should be peak color at around 3,000′ elevation, a few days earlier high up, and a week or 10 days later moving downslope,” Neufeld wrote.
The outdoor temperature is a factor that influences when leaves change colors.
Neufeld wrote in another update on Oct. 8, that while colors are overall picking up, they have slowed due to the warmer temperatures this week.
Another component that impacts the fall foliage is weather patterns.
The remnants of Hurricane Delta will work its way up into the High Country today with rain developing tonight, according to Ray’s Weather Center. Wind gusts may get up to 5-10 mph, with it being breezy.
Ray’s Forecast is also reporting Saturday to be foggy with periods of rain that increase going into the night. Wind gusts may also get up to 5-10 mph. Sunday will be cloudy with early fog and periods of rain being heavy at times. Wind gusts could get up to 5-15 mph. By Monday, things will start to clear with the forecast being generally cloudy with light showers.
Neufeld wrote about Hurricane Delta’s possible impact in his post. He said, “The high winds and rain will take down some leaves at the higher elevations, but because there is still a lot of green around 3,000′ elevation, those trees, and the ones lower down, should be able to hold onto their leaves, which means we should still have good fall color, probably peaking between the middle of next week through that weekend and into the next.”
Other fall leaf color updates are being shared by Sugar Mountain Village Tourism on its website with its fall peak leaf color forecast and guide for this season and on Sugar Mountain’s Facebook page, “See Sugar Mountain, NC.”
Sugar Mountain’s latest update from Oct. 8 said:
“Wow! Fall colors developed quickly this week. It’s currently peak color in the Sugar Mountain area. Find best colors above 4,000 feet elevation. Many chilly nights and sunny days have been perfect ingredients for great color. Color will slowly progress into the lowest valleys in the area during the next two weeks.”
Grandfather Mountain is also still showcasing its annual Fall Color Gallery, which is updated daily at www.grandfather.com/fallcolor and on Grandfather Mountain’s social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). The Fall Color Gallery provides viewers with a real-time glimpse at foliage progression in the area.
The latest entries for the Fall 2020 season can be found below:
Fall color moves along the slopes of Grandfather Mountain near the Linn Cove Viaduct, as pictured during the evening hours of Oct. 1. Grandfather offers an ideal vantage point to observe the foliage — first on the mountain itself and later in the valleys below, as color spreads to lower elevations.
Fall color bursts into the scene over Stack Rock Bridge, near milepost 304 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This particular section is already showing vibrant displays of fall foliage, as color becomes more prominent in the WNC High Country’s higher elevations.
Golden foliage frames the waterfall at the intersection of U.S. 221 and the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the way to Grandfather Mountain’s Entrance Gate.
Most people look to the treetops for fall color, but on Grandfather Mountain, leaf-lookers can also direct their gaze downward.
Spruce fir evergreens are nestled along Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak, leaving fall color to the shrubs and low-growing flora that call the mountaintop home.
Yet observers can look even lower, as fall color descends Grandfather Mountain’s slopes into the valleys and lowlands below.
Vibrant red foliage helps frame a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as seen during the evening hours of Oct. 5 from the Split Rock area on Grandfather Mountain.
The Oct. 5 sunset complements fall color on Grandfather Mountain, as well as dapples of foliage on neighboring Grandmother Mountain.
The Linn Cove Viaduct is flanked by Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge in the distance, as fall color spreads along the mountain’s ridgelines.
Fall color explodes along the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct.
A patch of vibrant fall color comes into view across the Green Mountain Creek bridge, near milepost 300 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Neufeld noted that red maples and sugar maples are practically glowing, while sourwoods, blueberries, tulip poplars, Fraser magnolias, birches, dogwoods and sassafras are also offering superb color.
The Oct. 8 sunrise highlights the red and orange foliage that’s becoming ever more prevalent on Grandfather Mountain, as seen from neighboring Grandmother Mountain.
Grandmother Mountain also offers a stunning view of Beacon Heights (milepost 305.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway), flanked by Grandfather Mountain, where fall color is quickly on the rise.
Be sure to keep checking back with the High Country Press for updates on the fall leaf season in the mountains.
Read the High Country Press’s last update on fall leaf colors here: https://www.hcpress.com/news/fall-leaf-color-update-fall-colors-continue-to-burst-grandfather-mountain-offers-stunning-ways-to-view-it.html.