Advertisement

Experts believe 2016 wildfires altered fall colors in the Smokies

Fall colors are creeping down the mountains, but experts think colors may look slightly different in the Smokies.
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 8:16 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - Fall colors are creeping down the mountains, but experts think colors may look slightly different in the Smokies.

Experts told WVLT News Sevier County Bureau Chief Kyle Grainger that they believe the 2016 wildfires have caused some new sites in the mountains. As millions head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the scars of the wildfire still show.

Steve Norman with the United States Forest Service said it shows how hot the fires burned. “The visible aspect of it, that everyone can see when they drive right on 441. It’s a lot more prominent there because of that intensity.”

It creates an entirely new look for those who haven’t visited the Smokies before or visited them since the fires occurred.

He added, “Areas that used to be lush green or shades of brown in the fall are quite often black. The ground litter can be dark, and it changes the way we view [the area]."

Another researcher, Jeff Atkins with the Virginia Commonwealth University, said the fires took away trees' nutrients. Even though the greens might not be as green as you’d expect, that makes the fall colors shine through more than before.

“Because the process of leaves changing color they have all the green stuff right. The chlorophyll kind of leaves and If you lose nutrients you tend to get brighter colors," he said.

Researchers said visitors will notice the biggest difference through more oranges and reds.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.