Warmth and water combine to impact the fall foliage spectacle
By H. Rose Schneider, Times Union
After a hot and wet summer, upstate New York trees could be gearing up for a sea of reds, oranges and golds this fall.
A warmer-than-normal season could delay leaves changing, but heavy rainfall this summer could brighten their colors, experts say. “That’s one ingredient that could help us have a colorful fall,” said Paul Roundy, a professor of atmospheric and environmental science at the University at Albany.
A combination of warm and sunny days, cool (but not freezing) nights and moist soil allows trees to produce sugar, and in turn, produce anthocyanin pigments — a type of pigment found in everything from berries to root vegetables that give autumn leaves their red color — explained Dan Gaidasz, senior forester at the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“This summer’s weather is setting up for a potentially good fall color season across the state,” Gaidasz said in a statement.
The Northeast stands out this season as drought-stricken regions in other parts of the county could see premature leaf drop and muted colors, according to the website Explore Fall.
But the region’s weather could impact when leaves change upstate. This fall’s temperatures are around 50 percent more likely to be above normal, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
“There’s a bit of uncertainty because it depends on how the weather evolves through the fall,” Roundy said.