GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Thursday was the official start of autumn, but with temperatures in the 90s, it feels like anything but.
Fall in North Carolina is unpredictable. With so many different geographical areas, there’s just no way for fall to look the same from east to west.
Robert Bardon is the associate dean of Extension in the College of Natural Resources at NC State. He said warmer temperatures encourage leaves to hang onto the tree, and cold snaps make them fall right off.
“Things that shorten the season for fall color actually is a warmer period of time, actually the leaves will continue to produce chlorophyll and everything, and it kind of hangs on and then all of the sudden it gets cooler and everything. And then an early frost would shorten our Fall color season,” said Bardon.
According to the National Weather Service, North Carolina might not be feeling those fall temperatures long-term for a while.
“For North Carolina in particular, the most likely outcome for your state is above normal temperatures for the month of October, also for the fall as a whole. For October, November, December, we’re anticipating about a 40% to 50% chance it’s above normal temperatures occurring,” said Meteorologist Scott Handel, head of forecast operations at the National Weather Service.
Hurricanes and droughts also play a role in the fall foliage folks experience.
“Their impact on fall color has more to do with the amount of rain we get and the amount of wind we get. They can actually knock leaves off the trees if we have hard enough rains in the fall or extreme winds and everything,” said Bardon. “Areas of the state that have been under drought may experience duller colors than we would see in areas where there’s plenty of soil moisture.”
Bardon also said that mountains typically experience fall before the coastal regions of North Carolina.
“The upper mountain regions will be the first to really start to show the signs of colors more across the region,” said Bardon. “They’ll probably start around the beginning of October, but they really won’t peak until mid to late-October, and that kind of moves across the state generally in that time frame.”
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the coastal areas of North Carolina will not see that autumn peak until late October or early November.