Above average color for foliage season forecast
Well-watered trees and a good growing season is setting the stage for an average to above average colorful foliage season in Connecticut.
Chris Martin, state forester for the state Department of Energy and Environment, said Monday the big factor between average and above average color will be cool temperatures.
“Things are lined up, we’ve had a wet sprring and wet August that helped trees recover from the drought,” Martin said. “But we need nighttime temperatures in the 40s and 30s to make the colors pop.”
Last year, Connecticut and much of New England had a late foliage season because temperatures were well above normal in September and October.
Last October was especially warm with the average temperature in Danbury 8.6 degrees above normal. Along the shoreline, last October’s temperatures averaged 7 degrees above normal, with only six nights with temps below 45 degrees, according to the Northeast Regional Climate.
Along with be abnormally warm, Yale University professor Graeme P. Berlyn said last year’s delayed falls was also caused because of a higher number of cloudy skies.
A combination of cold nights and sunny days produces the most vibrant color.
Leaves contain a chemical substance called chlorophyll, the substance that gives leaves their inherent green color. As the season begins to turn cold, trees begin to block the flow of water to their leaves. Without water, the chlorophyll breaks down and vibrant colors are revealed in all their splendor.
Combined with fall’s warm temperatures, Martin said trees were affected by a long drought. “In some places we had an early leaf drop without the cold temperatures.”
Martin the majority of threes damaged in the tornadoes and microburst that struck western Connecticut in May were pine trees.
Maple trees, which produced the most vibrart fall foliage colors “are pretty flexible” and bend with the wind.
Martin said foliage is on track to have peak color in the first two weeks of October in northern Connecticut; peak color for the shoreline is the last week of October.