Above-av­er­age color ex­pected

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - NEWS - By Jim Shay

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.

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