Fall Foliage Tour Through Pocahontas County & Signs of Drought Stress on Trees

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): The StormWatch 4 weather team went out to check the best fall foliage in our area. Our first stop went into Pocahontas County.

Our tour through the Monongalia National Forest was absolutely breathtaking. Elevations above 4000 feet are at peak foliage right now.

So get out and enjoy it across northern Pocahontas County, but the rest of the region still has yet to reach peak. We actually got a chance to talk to Assistant State Forester Linda Carnell about the fall foliage season, how these maps are produced that you see from the tourism industry and what to look out for on your tree, in your backyard to know if it’s going to be beautiful or not so vibrant this fall foliage season and going forward.

Carnell said, “One of the things we look at is annual data that comes around every year. And, you know, we we have seen these patterns in place for a long time. And most of the time we know that the higher elevations will start changing color in late September, and usually the color will stay down in the southern parts of the state and the extreme eastern panhandle will finish up the third week, the fourth week of October.”

HOW THE WEST VIRGINIA TOURISM MAPS OF PEAK FALL FOLIAGE ARE PRODUCED: “The tourism usually produces the maps. They have the artistic group that puts these maps together, and then they send them to us. And then what I do is send them out to all of our regions around the state and ask them to take a look and see if they feel that these are pretty accurate with the conditions that they’re seeing.”

“And again, they’re only predictions. So it doesn’t mean that one good hurricane can come off the coast and take most of our leaves with it. So yeah, we do that and once we approve that, then we send it back to tourism and that’s what they do. They send that out. Now the Division of Forestry does supplies them weekly updates as to what we are surfing out around the spring every week up until the end of October.”

WHAT DEFINES THE IDEAL WEATHER FOR BEAUTIFUL FALL COLORS? “The most optimal condition is that you get rain a little bit every week, every week, every week. But that’s not the way it works for sometimes as long as during the growing season, there’s optimal rain, you know, that helps to totally flush, keep the tree healthy. It’s not stress, things like that.

WHAT VISUAL CLUES INDICATE A TREE IS STRESSED? When a tree is stressed, sometime in order to help sustain itself, it’ll just take its leaves around them up and that’s it. And they just drop them. They don’t change color or anything. They fall off because they’re trying to keep all the sugars and water inside it. And that’s the own protection. Have you ever seen a tree that’s like this long trunk? And then you see this patch of leaves just out of nowhere. Out of the side of the trunk.”

“No branches, no nothing. Just a bunch of leaves in a cluster. Usually that’s a stress reaction to.”

WEATHER FORECAST: The upcoming pattern favors a quick transition to peak fall foliage for the remainder of southern West Virginia:


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