Leaf watch: 50 percent of leaves see color change in 2nd week of October

Northwest GA (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Lots of rain over the past week has led to a slightly different look in the higher elevations. Many of the trees previously displaying the brightest reds and yellows have lost their leaves while other species are slowly beginning to shift from green to yellow and brown. Early turners in higher elevations such as red maple, sourwood, sumac, and blackgum are among the species most affected by the rain. Though some of the most vivid colors from last week have disappeared; hickory, poplar, birch, and sassafras are continually shifting from green to yellow, increasing variety to overlooks as time progresses. Oaks are beginning to fade to brown with small hints of yellow. Dogwoods have surpassed peak as deep reds begin to dull. 

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October, 15, 2020 (FOX 5 Storm Team)

Species specifics:

Dogwood – vivid red is beginning to dull and shedding leaves

Birch – slowly fading to brown and yellow

Yellow-poplar – green with a hints of yellow

Redbud - green

Sourwood – shifting to mute and deep reds

Sumac – bright red

Maple – dull reds

Birch – fading to yellow with brown edges

Oak – green slowly fading to brown and yellow

Blackgum – shifting to orange and red

Sassafras – slowly fading to yellow

Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow

Hickory – starting to get a yellow tint with browning edges

October, 15, 2020 (FOX 5 Storm Team)

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  10% at higher elevations.

Scenic NW drive: I-75 to Hwy 136 to top of Lookout Mtn; left on Hwy 157 to

Cloudland Canyon. OR Daughtery Gap Rd will take you to Farms. 

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October, 15, 2020 (FOX 5 Storm Team)


The remnants of Hurricane Delta took down some early-turning yellow poplar leaves however, they were by no means stripped of their foliage and many are still holding both yellows and greens.

The progression continues with color becoming more noticeable at the upper elevations and our roadside color across NE GA continues to increase in both coverage area and intensity. Looking back at some of our digital photo records, we are just a few days behind where we were in 2014 and that year provided an excellent finale in terms of amount of color and intensity.  Crossing our fingers that the next 2 to 3 weeks will provide us with a similar conclusion.

Above 3000’ oaks continue to transition to reds and yellows.

Roadsides continue to see significant increases in color with sourwood, maple, blackgum, dogwood, and sumac adding more to the roadside reds and the yellow poplar being supported again this week by the birches. Additionally, this week, hickories are beginning to show some initial golden yellows and every now and then a black walnut is bringing bright lemon yellow.

Overall, our canopies across the region are in various stages of fading greens but with color getting more involved each day.

October, 15, 2020 (FOX 5 Storm Team)

Species specific:

Dogwood  - Red / Burgundy

Birch  - Yellow

Yellow-poplar – Yellow/Gold

Sourwood – Red / Burgundy

Sumac – Bright Reds

Maple – Muted to Bright Reds

Oak – Above 3000’ beginning changes to reds and yellows

Blackgum – Showing some good reds/increasing in color

Sassafras – Occasional saplings showing some reds and orange.

Hickory – early stages with occasional trees showing some golden yellow

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  10 – 50% above 3000’;

20% or less below 3000’.

At Georgia’s very highest elevations we may see peak beginning this weekend running into next week. Peak time below 3000’ elevation should still be on schedule for the last week of October and into early November.

October, 15, 2020 (FOX 5 Storm Team)

Scenic NE drive:

Higher elevation drives continue to provide the best color opportunity. South-facing slopes are showing a little more color also. Roadsides throughout the mountain counties are providing regular color. As in the last two weeks, the Richard Russel Scenic Highway, Dicks Creek Gap (US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee) and GA 180 west of Wolf Pen Gap should make for nice drives. 

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