New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » New England’s fall foliage affected by drought

New England’s fall foliage ruined!

Yup, that is what one Connecticut weatherman said or at least the headline that are mean to grab your attention.

Almost bare tree outside barn on hill

Almost bare tree outside barn on hill

NOW! Do I have your attention? The New England fall foliage season will NOT be ruined. But it will be a bit more challenging to plan our trips. For those of you heading to the southern three states will have your work cut out for you.

The northern New England states

As you can see below, of the three only New Hampshire is in the red but this doesn’t mean we dodged a bullet up north. It just means that they got more rain than down south in MA/CT and RI. White means in good shape and the yellow means unusually dry.

Best case

What I would expect in these areas will be colors developing on a near normal schedule and the colors will be bright if, IF… we don’t get a ton of rain during the rest of Sept and Oct. If that happens then the colors will be more muted. Think pastels instead of primary colors. We do want a little rain and lots of sunshine.

Worst case

So far this season we haven’t been hit with any big storms and the longer we go the more I hold my breath. The leaves up north have a decent to good hold on the trees but any combination of wind and rain is bad and if they are stressed then they will drop in the slightest breeze.

Danger zone

In New Hampshire we have extreme drought in the southern portion and this will be very quick to color up and drop or just turn brown. I would say that we need to look at earlier dates and more northerly if possible.

Northern New England States

Southern New England states

In Massachusetts we have a mixed bag but from what I’m hearing, out in western Mass, you should find the best colors. From the reports I’m reading from Central Mass, this area will be hurting this fall. On top of the drought the gypsy moth damage won’t be repaired until next spring. CT and RI are colored tan and this is more severe than the bright yellow. So we’ll have to see how bad these areas are. My friend Butch in Rhode Island says he is seeing birch turning yellow or brown down his way and on the golf course that he was at it was decidedly starting to look more brown.

The good news

There will still be some color in eastern MA but it will be brief. The other good news is that we have so much history here along with festivals like the Topsfield fair and family farm corn mazes that you will still have a good time. Let’s not forget the Haunted Happenings in Salem MA.


Non-New England state

united-states-drought-monitor-new-york-drought-monitorFor the past three years I’ve had Hollywood calling and wanting me to consult on my thoughts on the fall colors in New York. This year they are making a movie in Central park and they called once again so I asked for a screen credit as a foliage consultant. 🙂

I wonder if this make me the fall foliage consultant to the stars?

New York is having it’s own troubles but it all depends on where you look. Western New York is where I would stay away from but east of that has gotten more rain and is in pretty good shape. Eastern NY is a bit dry but should have really pretty colors up from the Catskills to the Adirondacks.

Central Park (NYC) is showing more drought and I think it will be both early and a bit quicker to come down but if we are lucky it should still be bright. As always, if we get a big rain storm then all leave that have turned will come down quickly.

Over all I see our situation as less than perfect but it could be oh so much worse. If we get a Sandy/Irene level storm over the top of New England (or New York) then we might have to wave the white flag and tell Mother Nature she wins this year.

Global warming, El Niño, and La Niña

All of these things play into our fall foliage as well as the rest of the year. One thing connects to another. I was watching a time lapse of a windy day at Salem Maritime’s Derby Wharf (Where I work as a National Park Ranger) and with a fresh breeze at high tide the waves were breaking over the side of the wharf.

All of these weather event are taking a toll on places at the waters edge. A few more years and the wharf along with other low lying coastal areas will need to be abandoned or built up. The world is changing and the climate is becoming more unpredictable. This is my way of saying that my “predictions” are good guesses but please don’t shoot the messenger. 🙂

2017 Calendars

I’ve sold some of the 2017 Calendars and if you are interested in purchasing my 2017 Covered bridge calendar surrounded by 12 months of fall colors then click the link. This will open in a new page. The calendar is 8.5 by 11 (11×17 opened and makes a great gift or like the one on my wall, a great reminder to take your gaze off the computer and look away every once in a while.

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
Subscribe to my Newsletter - If you would like to sign up for my Fine Art America Newsletter (click this link and a window will open allowing you to sign up). Why sign up for the newsletter? Contests, discount codes on my artwork, maybe an excerpt from my book "Exploring the back roads of New England with Jeff Foliage"... Yes you heard me right... (Damn now I have to start writing it!)
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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New England’s fall foliage affected by drought — 10 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your reply !! my plan is something like beIow –
    Day 1: start from Phily and will reach Rutland , VT via Bennington and Manchester .
    Day 2 : start from Rutland , VT and will reach Pittsfield , MA via Greenfield MA.
    Day 3 : start from Pittsfield, MA back to Phily via Kent , CT.
    I am willing visit Vermont for its beautiful color so planning to re-schedule my trip around 5th-8th Oct.

  2. Hi Jeff , first of all your page is awesome. There are lot of information to know and plan accordingly for fall foliage trip. I am planning to visit southern VT and western MA during Oct 13-15. Do you feel that these dates are too late for peak foliage due to draught? Thanks in advance!!

    • Just try to stay in western MA. This may be an early and short season but time will tell. We’re seeing some early color on stressed trees and to be honest many trees are stressed… I think there will be good viewing those dates but how far south do you need to go is the question.

  3. Thanks for this report Jeff. I came here today knowing there would be something. I know where I live we are in the red. I was wondering if it might turn here quickly and be gone quickly. I am starting to think about my travels north to the Great North Woods and such as I do every year. Should I be looking at earlier dates? I am thinking of a drive up there the last week of September. Not sure if I should try to go sooner. I am guessing our best bets may b e the northern areas of NH and Maine this year. I always look to you for advice. 🙂

  4. We will arrive in Boston sept 24,then up to Acadia,Berkshires,green mountains and Falmouth. Leaving oct 10. Ik do hope we will be able to see some nice foliage,but mother earth is boss!

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