'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
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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. Thee leaves were largely spared by marauding gypsy moth caterpillars. The leaves look healthy.

Translation: 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, who 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 - warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights - to make it pop. But we've had a great setup."

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

But this year, Yankee says in a forecast being released Friday, 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 theoretically should 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," it predicts.

"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 concurs, though he worries about the fallout from a fungus that thrived during the very moist 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.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How does rain affect the colors?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (18)
  • brinkleyp-har
    9/11/2017 - 01:46 p.m.

    Rain effects the colors of fall by muting them. According to the article, it states in past summers there has been more rainfall which has led to less vibrant colors.

  • maverickm-har
    9/11/2017 - 01:50 p.m.

    A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors."


    rain effects the colors by muting them According to the artical


    I am hoping that the rainfall stops so there can still be bright

  • kamils-har
    9/11/2017 - 01:50 p.m.

    The rain affects the color of the leaves by mutting them. According to the article it states “A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors.” I hope that the rain fall stays favorable for bright leaves this year.

  • jacobm-har1
    9/11/2017 - 01:50 p.m.

    Rain affects the colors by muting them. According to the article, it said, “A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors.” I am hoping that the rainfall stays favorable for bright leaves this year.

  • cannas-har
    9/11/2017 - 01:50 p.m.

    The rain affected the colors by muting them.People are disappointed by the faded colors from the rain. According to the article,it said,"A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors". I'm hoping that the rainfall doesn't keep taking the color from the leafs.

  • trentonr-har
    9/11/2017 - 01:51 p.m.

    Rain affects the colors by muting them. According to the article,it said “A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors.”I am hoping that the rainfall stays favorable for bright leaves this year.

  • blakeb-har1
    9/11/2017 - 02:42 p.m.

    rain affects the colors because it is to much or to little summer rainfall the colors wont be as bright. “A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors” I hope that hurricane Irma will bring water for the trees.

  • oliviad-har1
    9/11/2017 - 02:42 p.m.

    Rain affects the colors because if there is too much or not enough rainfall the colors wouldn’t be as bright. According to the article, “A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors.”. With the recent rainfall, I hope the leaves will still be bright.

  • aliac-har
    9/11/2017 - 02:42 p.m.

    Rain affects the colors because if there is too much or too little summer rainfall colors won’t be as bright. according to the article ’A few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors’. With the recent rainfall. I hope the leaves will still be bright.

  • mickeys-har
    9/11/2017 - 02:43 p.m.

    Rain affected the colors because if there is too much or too little summer-rainfall the colors wont be as bright. According to the article,“few recent autumns disappointed because they were preceded by too much or too little summer rainfall, muting the colors.”. With the rainfall I hope that our trees are going to be colorful.

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