KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For those who are ready for cooler temperatures and apple cider, it’s almost time for the weather to change. It’s still too early to unpack the sweaters, but here’s when you may be able to expect Autumn weather and its colorful foliage.
At the start of September, temperatures have started to slowly descend. While the days are still warm with highs in the 80s, nighttime lows in the 60s for much of the area suggest that Fall could be on its way.
“The combination of shorter daylight hours and colder nighttime temperatures is what slows the chlorophyll production and allows the leaves to change colors. Because there isn’t really a stretch of these conditions over the next 7-10+ days, we don’t expect to see a big change in foliage color in the near future,” Meteorologist Ken Weathers said.
If temperatures begin to drop when they are expected to, peak color for the highest elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains being expected between October 8 and 15.
The next area to see the colorful leaves will be across the foothills of Monroe, Blount, Sevier, Cocke, and Greene counties from October 15 to 22.
After that, areas outside of the valley may reach their peak color around October 22 to 29.
Lastly, at the lowest elevation, the valley could be seeing peak Autumn foliage just in time for Halloween, from October 29 through November 5.
These dates are estimations based on Storm Team’s weather models that simulate what the atmosphere could look like in the future, so it is possible that the peak colors could come a little earlier or later.
Weathers said East Tennessee will probably end up with an “average” Fall foliage season, but it is possible that some places will be better than others because of our diverse regional climates.
“We have had plenty of rain in August with it being the 10th wettest on record for Knoxville, but that and dry stretches like we’ve had recently can put more “stress” on some trees,” Weathers said. “This can cause some to lose leaves early before changing to conserve water.”
For those planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the National Park Service suggests drives through Clingmans Dome Road, Blue Ridge Parkway or Foothills Parkway to enjoy Fall foliage at the higher elevations. Hikers may also enjoy taking in the sights on the Appalachian Trail, Inspiration Point on Alum Cave Trail, Oconaluftee River Trail, Look Rock Tower, and Sutton Ridge Overlook. GSMNP offers an excellent chance to see a range of colors with the park boasting more than 100 species of native trees.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.