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Did Hurricane Nate ruin the fall foliage in Western North Carolina?

Fall colors in North Carolina

North Carolina's fall colors take you flying, driving, hiking and fishing all set against stunning backdrops.
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North Carolina's fall colors take you flying, driving, hiking and fishing all set against stunning backdrops.

Hurricane Nate’s rain and wind ripped many of those mustard-color leaves from their trees in Western North Carolina. So this year’s fall foliage display is ruined, right?

Not entirely. In fact, in some ways the storm may improve the show.

“Nate brought lots of rain, which should really help the colors, and make the waterfalls more photogenic for the next couple of weeks,” Blue Ridge Mountain Life reported on Monday morning.

Yellow is the primary visible color in elevations below 5,000 feet, according to the report, but reds and oranges should peak this week. The remaining leaves in elevations higher than 5,000 feet are mostly brown or already have fallen.

Ridges above 5,000 feet felt the stress of Hurricane Irma’s winds last month, plus summer-like temperatures and dry weather, but Nate’s moisture will linger throughout the week, according to RomanticAsheville.com.

“It will be unseasonably warm and humid with showers,” the report said. “Often cloudy and rain showers create the most dramatic photographs!”

The brightest colors will be visible this week in elevations between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, especially near Mount Pisgah, most of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to fall foliage predictions from both websites.

“Best color now is above 4,000 feet elevation, including NC Highway 215 near the (Blue Ridge) Parkway and the Parkway north of Linville Falls to Grandfather Mountain and Rough Ridge,” said RomanticAsheville.com.

The fall foliage forecast map developed by the Appalachian State University biology department in 2009 also predicts peak colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway within the next two weeks. It’s the first map to consider both elevation and latitude for fall foliage predictions.

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