NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fall colors are fast approaching here in Middle Tennessee, but with drier than average conditions and barely any rain in the forecast, some are wondering if those bright yellows, oranges, and reds will be duller than usual.

Dr. Howard Neufeld, a Professor of Biology at Appalachian State University, is an expert in fall foliage, and he said drought can make some species of trees lose their leaves faster.

“Drought, if it’s pretty severe, can cause a premature loss of leaves to poplar, for example, or sometimes people call them yellow poplars. They’re particularly sensitive to drought. And in dry years, they tend to lose their leaves early.”

While some leaves may fall a little faster, Dr. Neufeld said it’s not all bad news. Cool sunny afternoons and chilly mornings are great for fall color, and Middle Tennessee has seen many days like that this fall.

Middle Tennessee’s fall colors should be right on time this year, according to Dr. Neufeld.

“You do have a good mixture of trees there. And you should get some color, but things like oaks and hickories tend to color up later in the season. So, the early part may not be as colorful maybe as we have in the mountains, but the Nashville area will just show some good color given your elevation maybe at the end of October and into the beginning of November.”

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The colors in the Smokies and out East are expected to be spectacular this year due to more rain and cooler weather.

“Here in the high country and probably eastern Tennessee. There’s going to be some really good color this year. And I also a friend of mine is in the Smokies right now on a field trip. He says colors are looking pretty good in the Smokies, too,” said Dr. Neufeld.

For those heading East to leaf peep, Dr. Neufeld advised, “The thing to do to avoid that is to go during the week, and to go early. So, if you can maybe get a hotel nearby, and then get up real early in the morning, you get out you avoid a lot of the traffic. And the colors are better early in the morning. Because the sun’s at a low angle, you get better color saturation. So if you’d like to take pictures, that’s the best time to do it.”

Interested in planning a trip to see fall colors somewhere else? has an interactive map that predicts possible peak times to see fall colors. Check it out at this link.

Send us your pictures of the fall foliage as the weeks go by. You can email your pictures to us at