Colors are popping in parts of the Chattanooga area, but will the trend continue? Former meteorologist and current Tennessee Aquarium spokesman Thom Benson explains.

"If weather conditions hold out and we don't get a lot of wind and rain like we had earlier this week, the trees will hold some of that color until maybe the second week of November," says Benson.

He adds that it's all about "weather present" and "near future" at this point, rather than "weather past".

Right now colors are patchy, but Benson's confident based on the Channel 3 Storm Alert 7-Day forecast that colors will become broad-stroked, spreading and sharpening nicely.

"It's that combination of the shorter day length and those cool, crisp nights that really set those colors," says Benson. "So we're probably in pretty good shape to have another good color season this year."

Sunny days in the forecast also help.

October is a busy month for festivals in Chattanooga. A promising foliage outlook attracts more visitors.

"When you have enhanced color it gets people wanting to travel a little more. So it's great for the Aquarium and tourism in general," Benson adds.

He also says if colors are vivid this time of year in northeast Tennessee and Virginia, that's good news for us here in southeast Tennessee as the colors tend to spill down.

"What I've seen so far from further north and east, the color reports are doing great up there," Benson states enthusiastically.

The Aquarium's River Gorge Explorer takes guests down the Tennessee River Thursday. Wayne Kirby and his six-year-old grandson, Christian, are visiting from outside Nashville.

"We saw some color changes, yes," says Wayne. "I think it would be real pretty, like you said, if we came back a couple weeks later when everything's changing."

Tours are offered throughout the week and last two hours. A special one-time three and half hour tour is offered for November 2 and rides the entire 34 mile length of the gorge. For more information visit the Explorer web site here.