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What a Difference a Couple of Weeks Make; Leaves Peaked Not Long Ago at Grandfather, Now Snow Covered

By Paul T. Choate

Grandfather Mountain during the peak of fall colors. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Nov. 2, 2012. It’s amazing how much difference a couple of weeks can make when it comes to the High Country’s fall colors and weather. Not so long ago, around mid-October, the fall colors were peaking at Grandfather Mountain. Now the mountain is covered in snow. 

On Oct. 21, Dr. Howard Neufeld, professor of plant physiology at Appalachian State University and fall color expert for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, wrote in his weekly fall color report, “You may remember that last weekend I said it was probably peak color time for the Boone to Grandfather area. But I was wrong, to say the least!”

How things look now at Grandfather. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Dr. Neufeld said that he was surprised by the brilliant reds and bright yellows on Oct. 17, a time which is a bit late for the colors to peak. 

The leaves are mostly gone now, and thanks to Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy’s recent effects on the High Country, Grandfather Mountain now looks a bit like a winter wonderland. By Oct. 30 there were “full blizzard conditions up there,” as Landis Wofford, director of communications with Grandfather Mountain, put it. When it was all said and done, Grandfather Mountain received 12.7 inches of snow and the wind was clocked in excess of 100 mph. The highest wind gust during the storm was measured at 105.8 mph between midnight and 1 a.m. on Oct. 30. 

Things are now calm on the mountain.  As for how long that will last, that’s always hard to say in the High Country.