East Tennessee made meteorological history of a less desirable form last month by registering the driest September in more than 100 years. The National Weather Service began keeping records of rainfall during the 1870s.
According to the University of Tennessee Extension Agent Neal Denton, typically October is drier than September.
Currently, the East Tennessee region is 7.3 inches below normal for the entire year. The NWS has recorded 29 inches of rain in 2014. Experts said that is far different than the wet weather recorded in 2013. By this same time last year the region recorded 55 inches from January 1 to September 30.
According to Denton, leaves are falling faster and plants are drying out earlier then they should. The blooms on hydrangeas are going into a winter form which means they are turning beige or brown. With more moisture the plant would have held its summer colors longer. The lack of moisture will also affect the plants once spring rolls back around.
There is a bright side to this lower than expected rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, when temperatures are drier it usually indicates winter conditions will be less harsh. In 1985 the region experienced the third driest September on record and the area had nine inches of during the winter.
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is bracing for leaf season in which millions of visitors are expected to visit the park to experience the changing leaves, Rangers said they aren’t seeing much impact on the park at this point and they don’t anticipate that to change.