Fall Foliage Forecast: Exceptional year in the offing

fallAccuWeather reports  leaf-peepers, get set: Experts say the summer season has set the stage for potentially exceptional fall foliage colors in the Northeast, though the weather through mid-October will ultimately determine how stellar of a display will emerge.

The Northeastern states have had a good to excellent growing season without any major disturbances, according to Dr. Michael Day, University of Maine research professor of Physiological Ecology.

“In addition, adequate precipitation and lack of wind disturbances has resulted in trees with an exceptional amount of foliage still attached,” he said.

Slight drought stress in the late summer helped to signal a seasonal change but did not force an early leaf drop.

The upcoming weather will play a critical role.

A cold snap in the next four to six weeks would bring out the vibrant fall colors, resulting in what Day considers an ‘exceptional’ year for fall foliage in the Northeast.

Cool, dry weather into September and October is typically ideal for producing the bright colors favored by tourists and locals alike.

The next month is forecast to deliver just what the doctor ordered with dry periods and some chilly weather in the northern areas of New York state and northern New England for the second half of September, according to AccuWeather.com Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.

Meanwhile, those in the Midwest and Southeast may be shortchanged. An abundance of wet and warm weather may hinder the display for the Midwest, southern Appalachians and Southeast.

According to the 2014 AccuWeather.com Fall Forecast, wet weather will be focused from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf coast in October.

Though the early emergence of color can already be seen in many locations throughout the East, the peak of colors will hold off for a while, according to Dr. Marc Abrams, professor of Forest Ecology and Physiology at Penn State University.

Those planning trips to see the foliage in late September should head north, but trips to the Southeast should be put off until late October, Abrams said.

By Jillian MacMath, Staff Writer for AccuWeather.com

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