More vibrant fall colors expected than in 2016
Just like grass, the more rain we get, the more lush the color.
It's early, but it's looking good for fall color this year. The more rain from June and July, the more chlorophyll is produced. This creates a 'mask' if you will over the leaves. Just like grass, the more rain we get, the more lush the color. In June and July last year we only had 3.7' inches. This is less than the typical rainfall we see just in the month of June, which is why the colors were a bit dull and quick to turn.
Thom Benson the Communications Manager of the Tennessee Aquarium says "Now last year I will say this, because of the fires in the area, and the smoky conditions, people were trying to stay in longer than they typically would, and obviously we won't have that problem this year."
Sunshine breaks down the chlorophyll and essentially reveals a leaf's true color. The less sun, the less the chlorophyll is broken down. Higher winds at night actually keep the air temperature mild, so we need light winds and clear nights with lows in the 40s.
We expect below average temperatures and slightly above average rain through September 19th. If we see *any* rain from Irma next week, forecast models are showing east of I-75, with the best chance. This could limit the color in some locations.
Signal and Lookout mountains could be more vibrant than areas like the Cherohala Skyway this year, so you may not have to drive far.
Benson states, "We do have three weekends beginning late October into the first week of November, where we take the cruise all the way through the entire Tennessee River Gorge."
Yellow birch, Mountain Maple, Hobblebush and Pincherry will begin to turn in areas above 4,000 feet as early as the week of September 10th-16th.