By Nathan Ham
Friday marks the final full day of summer, as the autumnal equinox will happen on Saturday night, signaling the arrival of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
The autumnal equinox will officially happen at 9:54 p.m. when the sun is directly in line with the equator and when we see 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
Days will continue to see less amounts of daylight as the Northern Hemisphere approaches the winter solstice.
People will not notice it immediately, but the arrival of fall also signifies the changing color of the leaves. As daylight hours continue to shorten, plants produce less chlorophyll, meaning the leaves will soon start changing colors as the fall season continues.
Appalachian State University’s Department of Biology does a great job of providing information on color change in leaves and how weather affects it. To see the best and brightest colors of the fall foliage here in the High Country, the weather needs to be relatively dry and cooler during September. Thankfully most areas around Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties did not receive the huge rainfall totals from Hurricane Florence that were originally predicted. So far this month, Boone has received just over seven inches of rain according to Ray’s Weather Center.
The peak color change in the leaves is dependent on weather, but also on elevation. Areas with higher elevations like Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain will have their peak leaf season before other places at lower elevations like Boone, Newland and West Jefferson.
Peak color predictions can vary about as much as a weather forecast. App State’s Department of Biology is predicting an earlier peak time for the leaves than the Smoky Mountain National Park is for the western portion of the state.