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Forecasting Fall Color

By David Boyd
Published On: Sep 12 2013 09:52:26 PM CDT
KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

Fall will officially arrive Sunday, September 22nd, but a few trees are showing some color already. We went to Bays Mountain Park to see when the color will reach its peak.

It's that time of year again. Shorter days and longer nights start the natural processes that lead to beautiful fall foliage. We learned that the weather we have now through the middle of October will be a critical factor in bringing out vibrant fall color.

Senior Naturalist Fred Hilton at Bays Mountain Park says, "the trees you see changing now around the lake are mainly sourwood trees. They normally start changing in late July. So you can't use them as an indicator on what the fall is going to be like."

The wet summer we had could enhance the fall color, but we still need the clear, cool nights and warm, sunny days to bring out the brilliant fall foliage.

Fred Hilton says, "if we do have that type of weather, as the chlorophyll begins to die, as the days grow shorter, and those other pigments are unmasked, they should be pretty good."

Hilton says the peak color at Bays Mountain is usually around the third weekend of October. What about this year?

"It's a little early to tell, but from what I've seen, we are pretty much on schedule."

Maples and tulip trees could begin to start showing color in the next three weeks, as long as the weather cooperates.

Hilton says, "if it stays dry and we have bright, sunny days and cold nights, we should have a pretty good fall. But predicting leaf color is like predicting the weather."

See the latest StormTrack 5 Forecast here.