ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The much-anticipated annual show of fall colors across the North Carolina mountains is on hold as dry, warm weather has kept leaves green.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports (http://avlne.ws/2dShhr9) that despite current conditions, Beverly Collins, Western Carolina University’s fall foliage forecaster, said that with a range of elevations from 2,000 to 6,000 feet, leaf watchers are bound to find color somewhere even if it is less spectacular this year.
This fall, warmer temperatures have kept leaves from turning toward the end of September and early October. Collins also said some leaves have turned brown due to the severe drought that crept into the mountains over the summer.
Last month’s average temperature of 71.9 degrees Fahrenheit was 5.6 degrees above normal, which is right in line with a global spike in average temperatures in recent years, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.
The seven farthest western counties in the state, including Jackson County, were listed to be in a severe drought Friday, according to the North Carolina Drought Monitor, which is updated each week on Thursdays. Buncombe County along with 13 other counties were listed in a moderate drought, according to the monitor.
Collins also said Hurrricane Matthew, which made landfall on the South Carolina coast on Saturday, could have an additional impact.
“The predicted wind from the hurricane may also impact us by blowing off some of the leaves,” she said.
Some positive news is that colder weather is in the forecast for Sunday with cool nights and warmer days, Collins added. If that’s the case, colors could peak relatively close to normal.
“We may very well see that the weather this weekend and beyond may bring out the colors,” she said, adding that overall, fall color is emerging later this year.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com