BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a New England tradition like no other. The changing of the guard. The green of summer is starting to fade and a wave of autumnal colors explodes across the region from north to south. If you catch the changing foliage at just the right time and place, there is nothing like it.
For my buck, October is the epitome of the month in the Northeast. Nothing feels more like New England than this time of year. The comfortable days with blue skies and the fresh and cool nights should be “Made in New England”. It’s the arrival of cooler, drier air that starts the entire foliage process, something that honestly hasn’t really started this year.
So what’s up with the fall color? Where is it?
The upcoming three-day weekend is almost always the best foliage weekend of autumn with the largest area with peak or peak conditions. But this year was anything but “typical”. Now head north and you will see a lot of green. All the way up Lake Winnipesaukee and into the southern White Mountains, the foliage is spotty at best, with more greens than yellows and reds.
You have to go all the way to the Canadian border to see the tip colors now – that’s about 1-2 weeks later than normal. The story is the same for almost all of central and southern New England this year – late. You may recall, last year the foliage was earlier than normal, just the opposite.
Why the sudden change only last year? Of course we blame the weather.
Last year the region was hit by various droughts. Trees were stressed by the lack of water. We also had an early cold snap in September (with several early frosts) that forced nature to speed up its internal clock. By this point in 2020, most of northern New England had peaked with massive leaf losses. In parts of central and southern New England we were already nearing the climax and it seemed like autumn was speeding by.
This year couldn’t be more different.
We went from a drought to a record amount of water in no time. Boston just had its wettest period from July to August and September, and is more than a foot above average rainfall for the year to date. It was pretty warm too. This June was the warmest ever recorded in the city. August and September were both the second warmest ever recorded. There was no sign of frost or real cold anywhere near here.
The result of all of this warm and wet weather was a massive delay in the foliage season. Mother nature just isn’t ready for pumpkin drinks just yet. Our fall trends have been warmer and later in recent years, but this year has been even more dramatic.
That said, there are still some great places to see some color this weekend.
Some suggestions include the northeastern Kingdom of Vermont, Smugglers Notch, Stowe, Vermont, Rangeley, Maine, and Gorham, New Hampshire. Franconia, New Hampshire is also on the rise in some areas.
At Conway New Hampshire, Woodstock Vermont, and Sebago Maine, you might be a little disappointed, they just haven’t quite got there yet. In most of Vermont’s central and northern Green Mountains, the color is almost at its peak, so road trips to Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury would give good results.
NewEngland.com is a great place if you’re looking for scenic canopy drive suggestions. The pick for this weekend is Bridgeton, Maine. If you go hiking in the White Mountains, you will surely notice a change of season with elevation gain with greens at the base and splashes of color over 2,000 feet. Some of the higher mountains will have their fall color peaks behind them on the peaks.
After a few days in the 70s, Thursday and Friday, the weather this weekend feels more like autumn.
Temperatures in southern New England will peak between the low to mid 60s, and northern New England will be mostly in the 50s during the daytime and in the 40s at night.
We’re starting the weekend dry, but have to keep an eye out for a rainy area south of New England. The models are currently divided on whether we will stay dry and protected by a high pressure area or whether this will collapse on Sunday and Monday and allow rain.
We’ll have more of this forecast on WBZ-TV, CBSBoston.com, and CBSN Boston in the coming days.
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ