Above-average color expected
Well-watered trees and a good growing season are setting the stage for an above-average colorful foliage season in Connecticut.
Chris Martin, forester for the state Department of Energy and Environment, said the big factor between average and above-average color will be cool temperatures.
“Things are lined up. We’ve had a wet spring 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 at 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 being abnormally warm, Yale University professor Graeme P. Berlyn said, last year’s delayed fall was also caused by a higher number of cloudy skies.
A combination of cold nights and sunny days produces the most vibrant color, he said.
Martin said the majority of trees damaged in the tornado and microburst that struck western Connecticut in May were pine trees.
Sugar maple trees, which produced the most vibrant 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.