Autumn leaf colors expected to peak 2nd week of November in Smokies, East Tennessee


GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Fall weather is starting to move into East Tennessee, but the long-lasting dry weather in the weeks prior will affect visual changes of the season. WATE 6 On Your Side Storm Team predicted that fall foliage will be at its peak between Nov. 9-16.

Frequent visitors and the local tourism industry expected to see fall colors peaking around the mountains by mid-October. Brad Beadles, a pilot with Scenic Tours, said he’s noticed the color of leaves tends to change later when East Tennessee has a hot summer.

“If we have a long summer, if summer extends out to October, the leaves aren’t going to change quite as fast. It’s the changing of weather that kind of breaks down the green pigment of the leaves and that’s when we get the beautiful reds and oranges and browns,” Beadles said.

Tourists also seemed to notice how dry the greenery was.

“Some of the leaves are starting that change, which those trees seemed to have absorbed all the moisture they could so, they’re in that turning phase. But then you see a lot of them around that are just going from green to brown because they don’t have that moisture left in them,” Tracy Cudnik, a tourist from Illinois, said.

Donna Jo Bennett, also traveling from Illinois, said that she was really hoping to see colorful leaves.

“I have a poster of Cades Cove, I think that Ken Jenkins took, and it’s so beautiful and I can never catch that,” Bennett said.

The lack of bright colors doesn’t diminish the views though, according to Bennett and Cudnik.

They, as well as other tourists, said the absence of orange and red leaves won’t affect the activities they plan to do. One newlywed couple from Alabama said that most of their itinerary involved indoor attractions anyway.

Beadles said that the lack of fall foliage might have slightly slowed business down during the usually busy fall break, but he said it just means more people will visit Sevier County when the colors start to show.

“The diversity we have here in our aircraft, I believe everyone has a great time regardless of the trees. It’s just the trees are a bonus if you come to the end of October, beginning of November,” Beadles said.

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