Fall Colors & Weather

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - This topic has become one of the most commonly asked in the past few weeks … what’s the status of the fall colors? When is the peak? When should I go to the mountains?

There is a lot that plays into the changing of the leaves, from the tops of the mountains to the bottom of the Valley. The changing in the color of leaves is triggered by the shorter days and longer nights.

On average, the range in colors of the leaves starts in the early to mid October at the tops of the mountains. This means above 4-thousand to 35-hundred feet in elevation. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service officials recommend driving the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway during this time.

Since the reds, oranges, and yellows travel down the mountains as October goes on, mid-month to early November is considered the peak. This is when the park service officials say you’ll find the most colorful assortment of spectacular colors.

This is all an average, because the weather pattern for months affects the leaves changing leading up to the fall. The Spring rainy season affects the how strong the leaves will be able to hold on to the trees. So, if there is a drought, like this year, then the leaves have a weaker bond and can drop more easily and sooner. While we want more rain in the springs, the ideal weather for fall foliage is calm weather once autumn rolls around. The warm, sunny days and cool nights are ideal for vibrant colors. The key is here is that it can’t be too cold at night, because a frost or freeze can make the leaves drop early. And, while we’re in a drought and need the rain, strong winds and heavy rain can also knock a lot of leaves off of the trees early.