NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fall colors are beginning to show slightly in Tennessee, but a wet start to October may mean less vibrancy and a delayed start to the season.

Howard Neufeld, a professor of biology at Appalachian State University, says that the weather in late September and early October has the most significant impact on the timing and vibrancy of fall foliage.

“The big determinant is the weather in September and early October. And what you want to have are cool sunny days, and if you get those, then the colors will be on time,” Neufeld said. “And the red particularly will be brighter colors. If it’s rainy and warm, with above-average temperatures, that can delay the fall colors. And it can make the red colors less bright.”

Fall colors are already peaking in the high elevations of the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains.

“If you’re above 5,000 feet, there’s good color up and down,” Neufeld said. “The Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachians here in Tennessee and North Carolina. Between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, that’s not going to peak for another week or 10 days.”

You’ll see colors peaking on the Cumberland Plateau in the next couple of weeks.

“My suggestions are if you want to avoid the crowds go during the middle of the week,” Neufeld said. “Get out early. If you’re on the weekend, get out early because you’ll avoid some of the crowds. And the advantage also of that – when the sun’s low in the sky in the morning, coming in that way, the colors are more intense. So if you’re taking pictures of fall colors, you’ll get better pictures in the early morning.”