Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 22, 2013

Peak season

A wet summer might lead to a colorful autumn

by JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

_ — While today marks the first official day of autumn, residents have already felt the new season’s arrival. There is chill in the air, especially in the early mornings and late nights. Gone is the thick layer of humidity and lemonade stands on 90 degree days. Pumpkins and flowering mums in robust shades of yellow, purple and dark red line the streets. Towns and communities are preparing for harvest festivals making apple butter, pumpkin desserts and autumn crafts. Autumn has arrived in the two Virginias. But when can we expect to see the annual explosion of color in our mountains?

According to Mike Sporer, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., the peak season for southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia will be late October. The peak weeks change every year, he said.

“The summer weather has a lot to do with it and even the weeks leading up to the peak season,” Sporer said.

The first widespread frost will arrive by Oct. 25 for most. Some communities — due to their terrain — might see a frost even sooner. After the first frost, residents can expect an indian summer.

“That is really a generic term for the first warm spell after a frost,” Sporer said.

The warm spell should be felt during the last week of October and into the first week of November.  Sporer said forecasters are predicting a bright splash of color this autumn.

“We had a very wet summer and there is a good leaf crop that will be able to turn colors,” he said.

Best places to view autumn colors are East River Mountain Overlook, Pipestem Resort State Park, New River Gorge, Grandview Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.