MIKE MOSS SAYS: Barbara, Exact timing of peak color is difficult to predict, but usually falls in the first half of October for higher elevations and the latter half of the month for lower elevations. Drought conditions over the past several months could result in a shortened or slightly early color season this year and perhaps to rapid browning, drying and falling of some leaves, but even with sub-optimal overall conditions, there are usually some pockets of brilliant color.
There are several sources, both online and via toll-free telephone, for tracking reports of fall color intensity and leaf drop rates across the state. These include the U.S. Forest Service, the "Visit NC" travel site, and the "Foliage Network." You can find links to these sites, as well as phone numbers where applicable, at www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/press/fall.htm. The Foliage Network in particular has some useful maps and comments for the southeast, available at www.foliagenetwork.com/reports/southeast_us/.
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