October is here, but fall colors in the North Carolina mountains are running behind schedule. So far, the dominant color is green.
According to Dr. Howard Neufeld at Appalachian state, usually by this time of the year, the upper elevations of 5,000 feet have significant color.
Right now, there are only isolated patches of trees with fall leaves.
RomanticAsheville.com shared a picture of Rough Ridge, located above the Blue Ridge Parkway at 4,700 feet, showing the comparison of the leaves from Sept. 28, 2018, and Sept. 28, 2014. Notice in the 2014 photo there's more yellow and orange mixed in with the green. Meanwhile, the 2018 picture barely shows any color this year.
Warmer than normal temperatures in September are to blame for the delayed color. Both highs and morning lows ran above average in the higher elevations.
Temperatures are one of the main factors in determining the intensity, and duration of fall colors. Cooler temperatures, especially at night, allow the yellow and orange colors to come to light. Unfortunately, highs will continue to run above normal through at least the first half of October. If this trend continues the amount of leaves with fall colors could be low later in the season.
Despite the late onset of the fall leaves, there's still some time for temperatures to drop this Fall. If you're planning a trip to the mountains you can use this interactive map here to see when is the best date to see the fall colors.