Favorable fall show expected this foliage season

Sunday News Correspondent
September 21. 2018 6:32PM
Leaves are beginning to change color at Burns Pond in Whitefield. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

Leaf peepers could be in for a treat as weather conditions appear to be ripe for a spectacular foliage season.

Splashes of color have begun in northern New Hampshire and will soon make their way south over the next few weeks.

Above-average late-summer temperatures, plenty of rainfall and just the right amount of sunshine may help to bring some brilliant colors, according to experts.

But if you're making plans for scenic road trips to catch some of the most colorful displays, you may want to delay them just a bit as the season is expected to be a little later than usual.

The Foliage Network reported that as of Sept. 20 some 11 to 30 percent of trees had changed color in northern New England. While there are no guarantees, the North Country generally sees peak colors by late September. The rest of the state peaks from early to mid-October with the Seacoast usually the last to see its best colors.

"This year has been relatively wet, with the exception of periods of moderately dry conditions and periods without substantial rainfall between May and July. Certainly, in August we saw frequent rainstorms and overall wet conditions. We also experienced unusually hot and humid conditions this year, but in general, rainfall and sunshine tend to be more important factors determining fall foliage colors than temperature," said Heidi Asbjornsen, associate professor of natural resources and the environment with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire.

According to Asbjornsen, the region tends to see its best foliage years when it experiences a mild and wet spring, sufficient rainfall during the summer months, warm days during late summer and early fall with clear, cool nights.

The rainfall will help to keep the foliage from peaking too soon, said Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

While daytime and nighttime temperatures have been above average, a cool down is expected.

"Definitely the last few days have been warmer, but we do look to turn more seasonal," Schroeter said.

The weather isn't the only factor when it comes to a favorable fall foliage.

According to Asbjornsen, the leaves are also pretty healthy this year because they haven't been hurt by widespread pest or pathogen outbreaks.

With many people making their fall plans, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness will again offer cruises that will give leaf peepers an opportunity to take in the views of the colorful mountains around Squam Lake.

The cruises have been a popular attraction for nearly two decades and are offered three times daily through Oct. 8.
Experts predict this year’s foliage to show particularly vibrant colors due to above-average late-summer temperature, lots of rain and a little sunshine. (AccuWeather)

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