What to expect this season
Will it be a lively fall foliage peeking season or a dud?
Depends on where you see trees in upstate New York.
According to AccuWeather’s lead long-range forecaster, Paul Pastelok, many trees have come under stress due to drought conditions this summer, particularly in southeast New York. Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and southern and central New England were similarly affected. And while the Hudson Valley got some much-needed rain in late summer, Pastelok said it was a little too late to help the stressed trees.
In areas where it hasn’t rained as much, the leaves will turn color a little earlier and fall off a little earlier.
As for their hue, predicting the exact timing and brilliance of fall color isn’t an exact science, and there are many factors to consider when it comes to fall color, including rainfall. According to Taryn Bauerle, a professor in Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science, the most important factor — the shortening of day length — is the driver for leaf color change, but how warm the fall days are, combined with how warm or cool fall nights are, determine the vitality.
“However, a lot has to do with the environment in the growth of the trees over the season,” Bauerle said, “and that comes into play during the critical period of late summer and early fall.”
Leaf watchers reporting color change for the New York State Department of Economic Developmenthave reported average shades of red and yellow appearing in areas of Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties, along with some patches of browned or burnt leaves.
What affects the foliage the most would be a strong wind or rain event that occurs during the season, Bauerle added. “It would also have a negative effect on the trees in a certain area. At that point, the leaves will fall faster.”
So the season won’t be a total bust in the Northeast.
But, as Bauerle and Pastolek noted, in the Hudson Valley, leaves can experience a more rapid color change and drop those leaves faster than past fall’s. And you may need to plan a trip to see the most brilliant displays. Pastolek, known for areas like upstate New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, believes the color’s peak could be reached closer to the second or third week of October, which is similar to last year.
And remember, not all trees change color. According to the Old Farmers’ Almanac, deciduous trees such as oak, maple, birch, and beech are those that turn red, yellow, orange, and even purple.
Where are the leaves changing now?
of the state of New York weekly fall foliage reports Notable color changes are expected in parts of the Adirondacks and Catskills this weekend. The report, issued weekly by the state’s Department of Economic Development, comes out every week on Wednesday and breaks down conditions by region. Here is the latest report as of September 28 for the Hudson Valley:
- County of Sullivan: Observers in Liberty predict 30% change with bright red, orange and yellow leaves, while observers in Forestburgh expect just over 25% transition and yellow and orange leaves.
- County of Ulster: Observers at Woodstock are expecting a 25% foliage change this weekend with green, yellow and orange leaves of average brilliance, and observers at Belleayre Mountain ski area in Highmount are expecting 20% or more changes with muted to average reds and oranges.
- Dutchess County: Spotters in Beacon expect at least a 15% change with yellow leaves of average brilliance and some early hints of red. Foliage change will be minimal around Poughkeepsie.
- Orange County: Spotters reporting from Middletown and Goshen expect up to 30% leaf turns over the weekend with average oranges and yellows. Observers in Newburgh are expecting up to 15% foliage change as orange, red and brown leaves of average brilliance begin to appear above the mostly green canopy. Cornwall watchers are expecting less than 10% color change this weekend, with a small number of average brilliance red leaves beginning to show.
- Columbia County: Hudson reports expect a change of up to 25%, with yellow and orange leaves appearing.
- Putnam County: Spotters in Cold Spring predict less than 5% change.
- Westchester County: Spotters in White Plains are forecasting a leaf change of up to 20% this weekend, highlighted by red and yellow leaves.
- Rockland County: Observers at Bear Mountain State Park are predicting less than 10% foliage change through the weekend, with mostly green foliage dominating the landscape, while observers in New City are expecting 5-10% foliage change with some muted reds.
What about the cat skills?
Greene County observers reporting from the upper elevations of the cities of Hunter and Windham are predicting up to 70% change this weekend and a mix of green, yellow and red leaves of average brilliance. To the east, in Catskill, spotters expect about a 25% color change with average oranges and reds.
In Delaware County, reports from the Delhi area are predicting a change of up to 55% with average to light yellows and reds along the roads while the hillsides are mostly green. Foliage in the Bovina area should be more than 35% altered with a nice mix of fall colors and at least 20% around Bloomville.