It is starting to feel a little like fall here in the Tennessee Valley and many people are wondering when they can expect the leaves to change. The weather plays a large role in when and how spectacular that show of fall colors is.
Fall colors typically peak around early November for the Tennessee Valley although last year we experienced beautiful orange and red hues as early as mid-October. It depends on the weather each year. In the Great Smoky Mountains, colors typically peak in mid-October.
The timing and the vibrancy of the fall leaves changing colors have a lot to do with how wet and how cool it is. A wet spring can make for vibrant colors. A severe summer drought can lead to more muted colors.
More moisture in the soil tends to lead to an on-time color change and more vibrant colors, whereas drier conditions lead to muted colors and delayed change.
As far as temperature goes, several consecutive days of warm, sunny weather in the fall and clear, cool nights can help bring out the beautiful colors. While you do want crisp nights, you want the temperature to stay above freezing for vibrant colors.
Looking ahead, the forecast looks favorable for some cooler nights and warm, sunny afternoons! Starting September 14th, temperatures are forecast to dip into the 50s for a couple of mornings and the highs should dip to the 70s. There is also a chance that temperatures by the middle part of the month could be below our normal high of 87, and our mornings could be cooler than 64. The graphic above is from the Climate Prediction Center.
The rainfall outlook for the same time calls for an equal chance for above or below-average rainfall. If rainfall is near normal for this time of the year, then it may have little impact on the fall color display this year.
It will not be too much longer before some of the trees start to turn, so be on the lookout for fall colors.