It’s that time again to see if we can pierce the veil of time and look forward to a short 6 and a half months from today and guess at what Mother Nature will give us.
My New England Fall Foliage Forecast for 2018
OK, you can stop yelling! I can hear a bunch of you saying “It’s not even spring yet!! Heck, It’s still winter!!! And all of you complainers can speak to the hand. I realize that you aren’t ready and I’M NOT TRYING TO HURRY IT!
There are people though, who want to visit the Scenic Autumn in New England and that means THEY are making plans now. These plans are not cheap (unless they live in Vermont but then why the plans…) So they want to get the biggest bang for their buck (or yen, pound, Euro, or whatever their currency is).
The plain fall foliage facts, just the facts
No matter what our governments tell us, climate change is a real fact. In the last 20 years alone since I’ve been paying attention to such things. I’ve seen a warming trend upward and a dramatic shift of the fall colors. Yes you can point to the New England fall colors last year and say they did start early and were showing good progress until Mother put the brakes on and we saw little color change for two weeks until the end of Sept and once that record-breaking heat wave broke in October, the fall colors had to start all over again.
I was confused by the sudden low temps in late August
and all the numbers indicated a warm August into Oct which meant a fall color slow burn.
When I say, a fall color slow burn, I mean a long slow start to the fall colors and a slow progression till they fall off… BUT! I also warned about fungus from the spring. When we get a long cool constant “wet” spring into summer, we have a high incidence of fungus, like Anthracnose and Tar Spot.
When I see the possibility of an autumn slow burn in conjunction with a possible fungus event, I see a problem. Instead of the leaves developing their fall colors and holding them for a long period of time. They will either develop wither and fall or just turn brown and fall. In 2017 we saw a higher incidence of this.
For those of you who are worried, don’t be. Out of the “millions of acres” of New England fall foliage that could be infected, very little really is. But it could mean that an area that you ARE visiting has fewer fall colors than you will hope for.
How to plan for bad weather or lack of colors
I call this zone planning. Don’t worry about picking a single town to visit and pin all your hopes on this town having all your fall colors, quaint general store, colorful fall colors on the town common, etc. Instead just choose a centrally located place to stay.
Let’s say you pick Stowe Vermont, from 1 Oct to 6 Oct. I guarantee that IF the full fall colors have NOT arrived, you could drive less than an hour North to Jay Peak (remember higher elevation earlier colors) or over to Peacham, Danville, or St. Johnsbury in Vermont’s NEK (North East Kingdom) and find Autumn’s rich fall colors.
If it arrives early and I tell you the best scenic fall colors are a bit further south, you just get in the car a go a bit south. Trying to change your reservations at the last minute to match the fall foliage progression is usually tough and expensive. It’s better to start out early in the morning and head for the hills.
New England is simply not that big and barring a traffic snarl on the highways, you can reach an area that does have great looking New England fall foliage to view in a short drive.
The secret to looking for the fall colors
Everyone ignores this small fact. Mother Nature does not flip a switch and then overnight the autumn fall colors are at peak! The plain truth is that even in a fast-paced year it took a week or more to get where I would call it “Peak”. In most years the fall colors take their time. The first leaves start turning on a maple up north in Sept (in some cases, August) and the rest of the tree (or the forest around it) takes days or weeks to be mostly changed.
All of this fall color turning is not happening in just one spot, it’s happening down the road and around the next bend in the road. You just need to go up that dirt road which goes between two high hills or mountains (we call that a “Notch Road”, think Hazen’s Notch) and it may be mostly green on one side and blazing autumn colors down the other.
No matter where you go, each day is going to be different. Each day, if the conditions are conducive to the leaves turning, you will find the colors changing before your eyes. If you don’t understand what I mean by turning, read this article on finding peak fall foliage and it’s different states of turning.
The 2018 Fall Foliage Forecast
Well, this year is the first in a long time, Both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Climate Prediction folks at NOAA, seem to be in agreement (more or less). They both say temperatures and rainfall, spring through October will be a bit above average. How much? We’ll have to wait and see. The Almanac says a couple of degrees and an inch or two in a month. NOAA just says a chance for above average.
What does this mean to us, the leaf peepers? Well, I like a nice warm spring into the summer as much as the next person. I’m hoping that we see a steady drop in Sept and some chilly temps in October. But if I had to bet the farm, I would say at this point that we might see a slow start to the autumn colors by a week from the norm.
So if you were thinking mid to late Sept, I might drop that back to late Sept to early Oct for Nothern VT, NH and ME. If you come the 1st to 2nd week of Oct I think the colors should be very nice in the north and developing in the lakes region (central).
I think the fall colors in scenic Massachusetts may be a tad later than the 15th but arriving in full force by the 20th. Again… if your plans say you HAVE to be in Massachusetts on the 5th or 10th of Oct then don’t panic. Remember I said that “some trees” turn early and I guarantee you will see “some” trees in full fall colors and some that are just starting. but later “should be better” as you move south into MA, CT and RI and NY… Yes, I said New York. They normally have quite a spectacular fall color display just like their Eastern neighbors.
Now as we move through spring into summer I will keep a weather eye on things and you can bookmark my fall foliage forecasts and reports page or you can just sign up for my blog to be delivered to your inbox so you don’t miss any of my articles on the scenic fall colors or iconic covered bridge locations that you can add to your bucket list.
Here are a couple of articles to help get you started…
Well, this should get you started on the right path, if not leave a comment down below and I will try to help out.Jeff "Foliage" Folger You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
- My Gallery on Fine Art America
- Try out the new Fall foliage forum
- Join my New England Fall Foliage page on Facebook
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but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as: http://www.4cornersnewengland.com/
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff Foliage.com.
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.