ASHEVILLE NC – The outlook for a bright leaf season is improving, as Western Carolina University fearless fall foliage forecaster Kathy Mathews has updated her prediction about the quality of the annual color show, based on changing conditions in the mountains.
“The weather patterns that we have been having in Western North Carolina in recent weeks should mean a brighter display of fall colors than originally thought,” said Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics. “The drier, sunnier weather improves our chances of a brilliant fall color season.”
Mathews bases her color forecast in part on weather conditions. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in the spring and September.
Although a wet spring with above-average amounts of rainfall originally pointed to an autumn with spotty colors across the mountains, the development of dry conditions in late August and September should improve the overall outlook and produce vibrant bursts of color, she said.
In addition, the seasonal forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for slightly above-average temperatures this fall in the Southeast. If that prediction pans out, the color season could be longer than normal, extending well into November, Mathews said.
The timing of “peak color” is difficult to nail down and is dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said. The peak of fall color typically arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations – above 4,000 feet – and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. An early frost could accelerate the timing of peak color, Mathews said.
In any event, visitors to WNC always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a vast palette of color made possible by the region’s more than 100 tree species, she said.
ASHEVILLE NC – The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the public to attend “Frog Love in the Pink Beds,” Feb. 15, 2014. The program’s indoor portion begins at 1:00 p.m. in the Forest Discovery Center and is followed by a guided walk to seek out frog habitats near the Center and along a portion of the Pink Beds Trail, returning by 4:00 p.m.
Warm, wet weather this time of year can pull frogs from their hiding places to find mates and lay eggs in woodland waters. The program explores this ages-old phenomenon that gives the hope of spring. The indoor slide presentation focuses on the natural history of the wood frog and amphibian conservation. The program moves outdoors about 2:00 p.m. to peek at the garden pool directly behind the Center that has been attracting frogs since its construction in 1996. If the timing is not right for frogs, it may be right for seeing eggs or tadpoles.
After a discussion by the garden pool, Cradle staff will host a guided walk to the boardwalks along the Pink Beds Trail to look for natural amphibian haunts and other features of the woods.
Since frogs love rain, the program will be held unless wintry conditions make travel to the Cradle of Forestry hazardous. Call the Cradle at 828-877-3130 with questions. The program is free, but donations are welcome.
The Cradle of Forestry is located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, on NC Highway 276, 6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls and 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Daily operations and services for the 2014 season begin on April 12. Visit www.cradleofforestry.com for information about the Cradle of Forestry in America.
ASHEVILLE NC – On Nov. 20, the public is invited to an open house to learn more about the impacts and responses to this summer’s rainfall, and to discuss what the area can expect from future weather events. The open house, presented by the City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), will take place at NEMAC’s 116 Grove Arcade location in downtown Asheville.
The summer of 2013 saw record rainfall in and around Asheville, with storms dumping nearly 12 inches of rain in July alone. That volume of rainfall in such a short period of time presented new challenges to the City of Asheville as Public Works officials responded to incidents like landslides and sinkholes.
“This summer’s rainfall affected many people in our community and had a profound impact on infrastructure and property,” said Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball. “And as a community, we need to have a conversation about what steps we can to take to prepare for and minimize impacts from future storm events.”
The on-site technology provided by NEMAC will offer visitors computer simulations of rainfall impacts on Asheville, and even provide site-specific illustrations of flood and stormwater runoff impact. The City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s NEMAC have been working together for the past seven years, largely collaborating on flood reduction and stormwater work.
Representatives from the City’s Public Works Department, Stormwater Services Division and Office of Sustainability will be on hand at the Nov. 20 open house to talk about the realities of heavy rain events, detail community responses from the city, and discuss options for preventative measures in the future.
“We really want the community’s voice in this discussion,” Ball said. “We want to hear from people who were affected and those who are concerned about what we can expect as we adjust to this new reality.”
The open house will take place Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6-8 p.m. at the RENCI Engagement Site located in the Grove Arcade, Suite 116, One Page Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801.
For more information about this event contact Chief Sustainability Offier Maggie Ullman at (828) 271-6141 or [email protected]
ASHEVILLE NC – Just in time for the changing seasons, UNC Asheville offers the 2014 Western North Carolina Weather Calendar, complete with daily average high and low temperatures, phases of the moon and daily sunrise and sunset times.
Published by UNC Asheville’s Atmospheric Sciences Department, the unique 12-month calendar features Asheville climatological data including monthly temperature and precipitation normals, and monthly heating and cooling degree days, which have been completely updated based on the normals recently published by the NOAA/NESDIS/National Climatic Data Center with data from 1981-2010.
The weather may change, but the cost of the calendar has held steady at $7, postage included. Please make checks payable to “Weather Calendar” and mail to: Dr. Alex Huang, ATMS UNC Asheville, CPO 2450, One University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804.
ASHEVILLE NC – September 22 was the first day of Fall. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (published since 1792 and well known for its accurate weather predictions) our area should experience the following weather for the remainder of September and October this year:
16th-19th. Thunderstorms along Gulf Coast. Rain for Tennessee east, then fair.
20th-23rd. Hot and oppressively humid.
24th-27th. Fair, turning much cooler for Mississippi Valley east.
28th-30th. Widespread showers for most of the Southeast.
1st-3rd. Fair and cold; frosts invade parts of the Southeast.
4th-7th. Wet Tennessee Valley. Heavy rains Gulf States.
8th-11th. More frosty weather as it turns fair and colder.
12th-15th. Showery, then fair and blustery.
16th-19th. Pleasant early fall weather.
20th-23rd. Rain moves in, then quickly clears, becoming fair and cold.
24th-27th. Showers, turning fair and chilly.
28th-31st. Unseasonably chilly weather arrives for Halloween.
ASHEVILLE NC – Abundant rainfall during one of the wettest summers in Western North Carolina history may portend a dampening of the intensity of the fall color show this year unless autumn brings vastly drier conditions, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster.
“With record rainfall during July, the trees in the mountains look healthy and green at the moment, and that’s a good thing for the trees,” said Mathews. “But leaf-lookers need to keep their fingers crossed for some drier weather in the next couple of months in order for us to see the development of vibrant fall leaf color.”
An associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics, Mathews bases her annual prediction in part on weather conditions, including rainfall, during the spring and summer growing season. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in September. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, with bright red colors especially dependent upon dry conditions, she said.
“There always will be plenty of color in the yellow and orange hues,” Mathews said. “However, if the days remain cloudy throughout September, there won’t be as much of a pop of bright reds on the leaves.”
Yellow and orange hues result from pigments that the leaves make year-round, hiding under the green color of chlorophyll, she said. As days get shorter and nights get colder, the chlorophyll will break down to reveal the pigments underneath.
On the other hand, the red pigments – anthocyanins – are manufactured by leaves mainly in the fall in response to cooling temperatures and excess sugar production caused by lots of sun, Mathews said. “Dryness also causes production of more red pigment,” she said. “Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils and nutrient deficiency produce more red pigment in the fall. Ample sunshine and dry weather is the combination necessary for brilliant fall foliage.”
Another factor in the annual fall color show is temperature. “Cool nights in September, with temperatures dropping into the low 40s, release the yellow, orange and red colors because chlorophyll degrades faster at lower temperatures,” Mathews said. “Temperature may work in our favor this year, as we have seen relatively cool summer months. If this trend continues, colors may be more vivid despite the rainfall.”
In any event, visitors to the WNC mountains this fall should expect good yellow coloration in the tulip poplars, birches, beeches, and hickories, and oranges in the buckeyes, maples and oaks, she said.
And there is an upside to all the rainfall, even if it means less-vibrant fall colors – the leaves should hang around longer, “With healthy, well-watered trees, we should not see much early leaf drop,” Mathews said.
Depending upon the timing of the first frost, the peak of fall color should arrive during the second week of October in the higher elevations, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, Mathews said. Because freezing temperatures quickly degrade chlorophyll, leaves peak in color intensity about five days after a frost, she said.
The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC.
Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors always can find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, with more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians. That means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season, Mathews said.
ASHEVILLE NC – Don’t miss the link to BCTV’s Garden Chores video at the bottom of the page.
Maintain the mowing height for fescue lawns at 3 inches. Try to mow frequently enough to remove no more than 1/3 of the blade at a time.
Do not fertilize cool season lawns until September.
Regular rainy weather will produce good conditions for brown patch, a fungus disease. If brown patches begin to occur in the lawn do not irrigate and do not mow the lawn when wet.
Irises and daylilies can be divided even while in bloom. This is useful if you need to keep flower colors separated. Remove any remaining flowers, cut leaves half way back and replant the divisions as soon as possible.
Container gardens will perform best with regular fertilizing and occasional trimming.
Early spring rains have encouraged many of us to do a lot of planting. Remember to check new plantings through the summer. Trees and shrubs will need a good soaking every week through the first growing season. Herbaceous perennials will need regular watering at least for the first couple of months.
You can still plant seeds for fast maturing annuals such as cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, and small sunflowers.
If you have moved house plants outside for the summer, this is a good time to repot if you have not done so. Also remember to monitor the soil moisture as plants will dry out faster outside.
Wet spring and early summer weather is especially bad for developing brown rot on peaches and plums, and black rot on grapes. Maintain regular fungicide sprays as a preventative as these diseases cannot be controlled once they have infected the fruit.
This is not a bad time to remove excess sucker and watersprout growth from apple trees. Removing the excessively vigorous growth now will allow more of the plant’s energy to go into fruit and desirable growth, and will result in less re-sprouting than winter pruning.
A healthy strawberry bed can be renovated after harvest. Beds more than 3 or 4 years old are often best removed and replanted in the fall or spring.
Vegetable crops generally need another dose of fertilizer about 5 to 6 weeks after planting, or when fruit starts to form.
Once cucumbers, squash and green beans begin to fruit, check them daily. The fruits mature quickly and are best harvested while young and tender.
Be careful when harvesting. Use 2 hands to pull beans, cucumbers, squash, etc. to avoid breaking the plant.
Through the month of June you can still plant tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, winter squash.
If you want more tomato plants, those suckers you remove now will root easily in moist potting soil.
Plant a tomato in a container for your patio or deck. Keep watered.
ASHEVILLE NC – The return of warmer temperatures offers the opportunity for relaxation and exploration outdoors. Whether you’re relaxing in the backyard, turning up your garden, enjoying the pool or taking part in another outdoor activity, you’ll want to be sure and keep your distance from disease-causing pests. Here are some ways you and your family can remain healthy while outdoors this spring and summer.
Prevent Mosquito and Tick Bites
Warmer temperatures aren’t just attractive to people, but to mosquitoes and ticks as well. Small as they are, these tiny creatures can cause severe illness, and in some cases, even death. There are several simple and effective ways to avoid their bite without missing out on your favorite outdoor activities.
One of the most recommended ways to avoid mosquitoes is to avoid going outdoors when they are most likely to bite – from dusk to dawn. Unfortunately, in Western North Carolina, we have some mosquitoes, such as the tree-hole mosquito, that tend to be out and bite all day.
To enjoy your outdoor activities at any time, repel mosquitoes by regularly using a mosquito and tick repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
In addition to using mosquito repellant on exposed skin, wear long pants tucked into your socks and long sleeves to protect yourself from bites.
Treat clothing with permethrin (which protects through several washings) or buy clothes that are pre-treated with permethrin.
Always follow the directions on repellent packages carefully and use caution when treating small children.
Ticks are out all the time. Young ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see, but both young and adult ticks look to animals and sometimes people to bite.
Keep ticks at a distance by avoiding tick-infested areas, especially places with leaf-litter, brush, and high grasses.
Use a mosquito and tick repellent containing 20% DEET.
Shower as soon as possible after coming indoors and check your body for ticks. Make sure that your children also bathe or shower and check them for ticks as well.
Call your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of a tick-borne illness 1 – 3 weeks following a bite. Symptoms may include rash, fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck or disorientation.
Keep Mosquitoes and Ticks out of Your Yard
Look around your yard and neighborhood and remove any items that may collect standing water, such as buckets, old tires, toys and flowerpots.
Mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of water in just a few days.
Replace or repair torn window screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
You can reduce the likelihood that ticks will live around your home by removing leaf litter, brush and woodpiles around your house and at the edge of your yard.
Beware of Bats
Bats are fun to watch as they flutter around at dusk. In many camp areas, the sighting of bats is common and normal; however, bats can be infected with rabies and may pose a risk for exposure to humans.
What To Do If You Find a Bat
Get everyone out of the room, cabin, or tent and close the bat inside.
Whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a lab for rabies testing. Follow instructions for capturing bats.
Knowing if a bat has rabies helps those who may have been exposed decide if they should get rabies post-exposure vaccines. This is especially important if someone was sleeping in the room where the bat was found because the bite of a bat can be very small and go unnoticed. Once symptoms of rabies begin, it is almost always fatal.
If you are bitten by a bat, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical advice right away. In Buncombe County go to the Emergency Department at Mission Hospital.
Remind children to never touch a bat.
If you find a bat in your residence, do not release it. Leave the room, closing the bat inside if possible, and call animal control or law enforcement for your area.
Don’t forget to protect your pets!
While you’re outside enjoying the weather, remember to protect your pets too. Keeping healthy pets will help keep you and your family healthy.
Dogs, cats and ferrets need to be kept up-to-date on their rabies vaccines. In Buncombe County you can get low-cost rabies vaccines for your furry friends at clinics sponsored by Buncombe County and the Asheville Humane Society. Click here to learn more.
Protect family pets from ticks and fleas by keeping them on a flea and tick control program. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the appropriate anti-bug products to use on your pet.
You don’t have to let the threat of illness from mosquitoes, ticks or bats dampen your outdoor fun in warm weather. Take these simple precautions, get on outside and enjoy! Have a safe and healthy spring and summer!
For More Information
If you have questions or concerns about diseases that may be transmitted through bites, contact your healthcare provider or the Buncombe County Communicable Disease Program at 250-5109.
For questions about eliminating ticks or mosquitoes from your yard, you may call Buncombe County Environmental Health at 250-5016.
Fight the Bite!
Use repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks.
West Nile Virus
Find where recent outbreaks of this mosquito-borne disease have occurred and how to protect yourself.
Includes prevention, transmission, and symptoms
ASHEVILLE NC – The potential for frozen pipes increases dramatically when temperatures drop below freezing. Here are some tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing and to help you know what to do if they do freeze.
Be aware of which pipes are most likely to freeze.
In an outside wall behind a sink.
Where pipes run through crawlspaces under houses.
Where exterior faucets are not shut off on the interior.
It’s hard to find a spot where cold air hits a pipe directly and freezes the line. It can freeze in that location and keep the whole line from flowing. Look for where a pipe may pass a crawlspace vent, basement window, or run along a sill plate. Look for areas where there is cold air coming in.
Precautions to Take
If you haven’t already taken the steps necessary to avoid pipes freezing here are some precautionary steps you can take:
Know where and how to shut off your water from the main shut-off valve.
Seal air leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep in.
Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
In exposed or problem areas, you may use heat tape or heat cables to prevent freezing. Make certain they are UL approved and that you follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Disconnect garden hoses, shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.
Turn your faucet on just enough to have constant dripping (for pipes that may be on exterior wall)
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes under a sink. It may be necessary to remove a piece of the drywall so the warm inside air can reach the pipes.
Leave heat on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
If you plan to be away from home, have someone check on your house daily.
Close foundation vents if the temperature drops below freezing for a significant period of time. Re-open when weather warms.
Putting a light near a chronic location where pipes freeze will keep the pipe from freezing. Be careful not to let the bulb or lamp get too close to any combustible surface.
If Pipes Freeze
Shut off water valves. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home.
Call a plumber to thaw your pipes. Thawing yourself can lead to greater damage and can be a hazard.
If your pipes burst, call a plumber and your insurance agent.
Although we do NOT recommend thawing pipes yourself, if you do try to thaw:
Don’t try to thaw the pipes with an open flame or torch. Besides being a fire hazard, the torch’s hot flame may create steam that can burst a pipe.
Don’t use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
Be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around water.
Never start a debris fire to warm pipes.
When thawing pipes, always work from the open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.
The safest approach to thawing a frozen pipe is to wrap a towel around the pipe at the suspected area and pour hot water unto it. Slide the towel along the suspect pipe and keep adding hot water until you reach the area where it is frozen. This method will never overheat the pipe or create a fire danger. Be sure to have the faucet or valve turned on so you’ll know when the water begins flowing.
A quick and effective method to thaw pipes is to use a hair dryer, but it can also pose some risks. Never let the pipe get hotter than what you can touch – you don’t want to get it so hot that it generates steam. As long as the pipe feels warm it should be enough to thaw the ice.
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
ASHEVILLE NC – Grady the Groundhog, Chimney Rock‘s live animal ambassador, will be making his annual prediction at the Park when he awakens from his winter slumber on Saturday, February 2. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the public is invited to an educational program and shadow sighting in the Meadows, followed by kids’ crafts and family guided hikes. If Grady sees his shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter weather ahead—but if not, then spring should be around the corner! Cast your vote on whether he’ll see his shadow at chimneyrockpark.com.
Reduced admission during the waterfall trail closure is $12 adult and $6 youth (ages 5-15); free for kids 4 and under. For special admission on Feb. 2, get one free youth admission with each paid adult. During February, Grady’s Kids Club memberships are on sale for only $8.
“Grady’s Groundhog Day is like Groundhog Awareness Day,” said Matt Popowski, PR & Events Manager at Chimney Rock. “Grady is a local celebrity—the kids love him! We hope everyone gains a better understanding of and appreciation for these popular woodland critters.
Grady’s Groundhog Day. Join Emily Walker, Chimney Rock’s Education Manager, at 11 a.m. near the Classroom on the Meadows for a nature program on the life of groundhogs and the Groundhog Day tradition, followed by Grady’s shadow sighting. Half-hour guided family hikes will start at noon and 12:30 p.m. on the Great Woodland Adventure trail. Kids’ Groundhog Day crafts will be offered from noon to 1 p.m.
Vote Online. Will Grady give the same prediction as Punxsutawney Phil? Or will he daringly give his own prediction about winter’s claim on the weather? Cast your vote online whether you think Grady will see his shadow at chimneyrockpark.com. Then attend the event or check back on the Park’s website or Facebook page on February 2 to see if you guessed correctly.
Grady’s Kids Club Special. To celebrate Grady’s special day, Chimney Rock is offering a discount on memberships to Grady’s Kids Club, the Annual Pass for youth, for only $8 during February—and it’s been extended to 18 months. For just 44 cents a month, kids ages 5-15 get unlimited visits to the Park for 18 months, discounts on Park food, retail and events and additional savings at favorite area attractions. Buy your kid’s pass online, by phone at (800) 277-9611 or at the park during February 1-28, 2013.
Animal Fun. Adjacent to the Great Woodland Adventure, a popular TRACK Trail for kids, is Grady’s Animal Discovery Den. It’s home to a handful of live animal habitats, including snakes, an opossum and Grady the Groundhog. These critters are stars in some of the park’s education programs for schools, homeschoolers and scouts. The Den also features hands-on, kid-friendly displays of furs and skulls from native animals, including deer, skunks and turtles.
This is the fifth year of Chimney Rock’s annual Groundhog Day event but only the third with Grady as the star of the show. The official Groundhog Day can be traced back to 1886 in Punxsutawney, Pa. For more information on Chimney Rock’s hands-on education programs for schools, homeschoolers and scouts, as well as summer camps, visit chimneyrockpark.com/education.
About Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park has been one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular travel destinations for more than 100 years. Beyond its stunning 75-mile views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock offers scenic hiking, rock climbing, Grady’s Animal Discovery Den and educational events year-round. It’s the only state park in the Southeast with an elevator inside a mountain. The park’s 404-foot waterfall was featured in The Last of the Mohicans’ final 17 minutes. Chimney Rock is located only 40 minutes southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. Call (800) 277-9611 or visit chimneyrockpark.com.