'Spectacular' fall foliage forecast for New England In this Oct. 4, 2016 file photo, fall foliage colors a line of mountains in Chatham, N. H. New England's 2017 fall foliage forecast is very favorable for leaf peeping. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
'Spectacular' fall foliage forecast for New England
Lexile

New England's fall foliage forecast is looking fine. It's enough to make a maple leaf blush.

For the first time in several years, little has conspired against a truly glorious autumn. There's no more drought and the summer has been mild. The leaves were largely spared by gypsy moth caterpillars. The leaves look healthy.

So a pretty great season for leaf peeping seems to be shaping up.

"It's the most optimistic forecast I've had in a couple of years," said Jim Salge. He tracks the region's annual autumn pageant for Yankee Magazine.

"The biggest thing that can go wrong with foliage is a really wet couple of weeks leading up," Salge cautioned. "We'll really need that typical fall weather in New England . That would be warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights. But we've had a great setup."

A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall. This muted the colors. Last fall was a bust in parts of eastern Massachusetts and Connecticut. That was because hungry caterpillars defoliated hundreds of thousands of acres of already drought-stricken woodlands.

But this year, the stage is set for a particularly "strong and vibrant" display. Salge didn't study New York, New Jersey or other corners of the Northeast. But botanists say those states will probably be in for a nice show, too, since they tend to experience similar weather.

Snowfall and snowmelt replenished drought-parched forests during winter and early spring.

"Since spring, the weather in New England has been fairly stable. There have been no long stretches of unbearable heat, nor have temperatures been below average. Rainfall has been adequate but not extreme," according to Yankee Magazine.

"The setup looks good overall for New England's fall foliage display this year. The forest appears generally healthy and leaf development has been normal. The upshot: In New England, normal fall colors are expected to be spectacular."

Jeff Folger, a leading foliage expert from Salem, Massachusetts, mostly agrees, though he worries about the fallout from a fungus that thrived during the very wet spring. It affects maples and other species, mottling the leaves and in some instances even causing them to drop early.

Gypsy moth caterpillars also did serious damage in parts of Rhode Island and around the Quabbin Reservoir in west-central Massachusetts. Chomped trees sprouted new leaves. But that generally means less-vibrant colors in badly hit areas come fall.

The National Weather Service says it's too early to predict in fickle New England whether September conditions will favor foliage. Its models foresee normal rainfall and above normal temperatures, which may or may not produce those desirable crisp nights.

Even so, "I think we're looking pretty good," Folger said, predicting that color may peak in some areas in the last week of September rather than the more typical first week of October.

"Happy leaves stay on the trees longer," he said. "And with no more drought, these are happy leaves."

Check out this collection from Smithsonian's Learning Lab to see artwork inspired by fall foliage.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 192 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How does rain affect the colors?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (60)
  • Laneys-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:04 a.m.

    i love its explained so well. i'm so shocked that they are having such good whether.

  • Abbys-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:04 a.m.

    Rain affects the colors of leaves. It affects them if there is to much rain the won't change to a normal fall leaf color.

  • Lilyh-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:05 a.m.

    It can make them more vibrant.

  • Jordynr-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:07 a.m.

    I like this story because it talks about fall. Also it talks about rain affecting the colors of the leaves. It can wash away the color.

  • RaeAnns-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:13 a.m.

    I think it is great that new england is going back to thier normal fall

  • Kassidys-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:17 a.m.

    1. The best weather for fall foliage is warm, sunny days and cool nights.
    2. Too much or too little rain can cause disappointment.
    3. Thrive means lived.

  • brycew-orv
    9/13/2017 - 01:31 p.m.

    agdhajdad dawjhdadjawh jbawdgawgdagwdgaw, awjkdhjdhwajhda,awdhduawhdj. wahjkdhajkdjkwaj,wadjhawjhdj.

  • Leahd-eic
    9/14/2017 - 10:36 a.m.

    The rain can over soak the leaves, and then they drink too much water and get sick. (i think)

  • Emmas-eic
    9/14/2017 - 10:46 a.m.

    I think the story was awesome

  • EthanM-eic
    9/14/2017 - 10:49 a.m.

    The best conditions for leaves are some rain, no hungry caterpillars, and lot's of sunlight. Last season, there was too much rain and caterpillars. Thrived means to grow well.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT