WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With the change to a new season comes the anticipation of changing colors of fall foliage.
But warmer than average temperatures may delay the change. In September, Wilmington’s daytime and nighttime temperatures were about four degrees warmer than average for the month. After a record start, temperatures are about eight degrees warmer so far in October.
Much of the Carolinas faced a similar situation in 2018. The most notable difference was the record amount of rainfall left by Hurricane Florence in September. This year, areas from the Piedmont through the North Carolina mountains are under drought designations. However, it’s worth noting that dry conditions can produce more vibrant colors, as it stresses the leaves and sugars of the trees.
Some of the higher elevations in the mountains are beginning to turn. These higher 5,000-6,000-foot elevations see cooler than average temperatures compared to the coastal plains and the Lower Cape Fear region.
In some isolated cases, are near peak. Additional turning will continue through mid-October, with parts of the Piedmont, northern coastal plains, and elevations between 3,000-5,000 feet seeing slow changes. That change could slow down, as long-range outlooks indicate high confidence in warmer than average temperatures.
By late-October, lower elevation areas between 1,000-3,000 feet will get rolling on the seasonal switch. Higher altitudes will continue to develop, with much of the Piedmont seeing rapid changes near peak, and mountainous elevations at peak. For the Lower Cape Fear region, foliage should start to turn with deeper changes and colors will be visible the farther inland you travel.
Expect early November to bring continually cooler temperatures and additional color changes regionally and state-wide. High-elevation areas may hold on to a few peak colors, but the highest elevations will likely be past prime. 3,000 – 5,000-foot elevations should be at peak color, includes areas from the Piedmont to the northern coastal plains. It’s by this time that the Cape Fear region should see foliage near peak.
Middle to late November will accelerate middle and higher elevations past peak viewing with optimal colors coming to the Cape Fear and the rest of the coastal plains.
Remember, you can submit your pictures to See it, Snap it, Send it! as the leaves change color. Foliage forecasts are subject to much scrutiny and change and will rely heavily on cooler temperatures to keep the process moving.