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When will the fall foliage peak in New England after weather delays season?

A warm and wet first half of September has kept most of the leaves green so far, even in the mountains of northern New England.

HARTFORD, Conn. — By this point in September, usually, the trees in northern New England reflect the changing seasons. But so far this month, there's been minimal change in color.

Sure, if you look you'll find some leaves are turning, even here in Connecticut. A lot of the color so far is found in swamp maples, known to turn early in wetter years.

Late September is considered the average time for peak fall color in the mountains of northern New England. This year it's not going to be close.

Credit: Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf, Maine on September 19, where color is beginning to change, but remains 10 to 15 days from peak.

The warm, wet weather through the first half of the month has kept the green going on most trees though, even up north.

Cooler nights have arrived, but they're not too chilly yet.

"It's already way behind," Jim Salge is a meteorologist and foliage forecaster for Yankee Magazine. His first foliage forecast issued in August called for a later peak, with some color turning early on those more vulnerable trees.

It also called for a more muted color display this year. Last year's season brought a punch of vibrant reds. But this year, the pallet of colors will be more pastel in nature, with fewer flaming reds, that are "no less beautiful," due to the wet weather conditions.

"Fortunately, the forecast we put out in August is holding pretty well. We're looking at a late season, a long season," Salge said.

Credit: Killington
Killington, Vermont remains mostly green on September 19. Peak color usually happens at the end of September or early October here, but will be late.

What's changed since then?

The continued downpours and high humidity into September caused leaf fungus to spread. Salge said the maples seem to be most affected, adding this is a seasonal event and not one that should hurt the forests long-term.

"Suburban maple trees that line country roads, some of our favorite trees for fall foliage, are starting to see a lot of browning. That's not a good deal," he said. 

However, he said the interior forests are in good shape. There is a lot less fungus there. 

"It's a good season to go hiking. The majority of the forest is healthy. Some of those higher hill scenes in the hills of Connecticut will be really good," Salge added.

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Predicting peak color can be a bit subjective. However, it's clear that it's running well behind average in spots this year.

Here is the best estimate for when to expect peak color.

Credit: FOX61

It's delayed by at least a week or two in parts of northern New England. Peak color is not expected until around October 1 in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and far northern New Hampshire around Pittsburg.

In the White Mountains and most of the Greens, expect a peak during early October, but even there good color should linger into the middle of the month.

The delay may be a bit less relative to average here in Connecticut, with peak color forecast in the northwest hills by mid-October. It will take until the latter half of the month for the rest of the state to experience widespread color. Along the shoreline, a peak may not occur until after Halloween.

Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at rbreton@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookX and Instagram.


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