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Fall Foliage: Where And When To Go In New England

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) – Okay, you’ve got your pumpkin coffee, the kids are loaded in the car and you’re ready to go leaf peeping. What better way to spend a fall weekend in New England. But where do you go? Which direction should you head? Is the drought going to dampen the fall colors?

Well, you came to the right place.

First of all, let’s look at the overall picture.

Things are running a bit behind schedule largely thanks to the recent dry and warm weather. There really aren’t any “peak” regions right now, although you will find small pockets of peak color in the highest elevations of the Green and White Mountains.

For instance, the Mount Washington-Bretton Woods area has some terrific spots right now with vibrant color, however the whole ride up I-93 you will only see a few splashes of color.

(Photo credit: Omni Mt Washington Hotel/Bretton Woods Adventure Center)

(Photo credit: Omni Mt Washington Hotel/Bretton Woods Adventure Center)

So if you are thinking of leaf peeping this weekend and want to see dramatic color change, it’s going to be a long drive. Plan on heading well north into the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

My suggestion given the foul weather forecast for the next few days would be to hold off a week for peak foliage in northern New England and perhaps two more weeks for peak colors in central New England.

The Omni Mt Washington Hotel. (Photo credit: Omni Mt. Washington Hotel)

The Omni Mt Washington Hotel. (Photo credit: Omni Mt. Washington Hotel)

Having said that, this will likely be far from a perfect foliage year given how dry things have been.

While northern New England should still fare well (they have had more rain up that way), central and southern New England could be a hot mess.

Trees are stressed out. Between a late spring cold shot, which killed the peaches and lots of buds, then the return of the dreaded Gypsy Moth caterpillars in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and finally the ongoing drought, it has been tough being a tree the last year or two.

So, the bottom line – temper your expectations for fall color in southern Maine, southern New Hampshire and most of eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Black Bear Summit at King Pine. (Photo credit: King Pine Ski Area)

Black Bear Summit at King Pine. (Photo credit: King Pine Ski Area)

The color will be all over the “map.” Some trees are already turning, but many going right from green to yellow and brown. Others may experience a very brief burst of vibrant color, lasting just a few days before running out of steam and going brown.

So to summarize:

Wait another week-to-10 days

Slow start up north this year plus cloudy,wet weather this weekend

Head far to the west (Berkshires) or well north (northern New England) where the drought hasn’t been as severe

Temper expectations

And we would love to hear your foliage reports and see your pictures!

Send them to weather@wbztv.com

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ


One Comment


    Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew has strengthened to CATEGORY 4 intensity, maybe even Category 5. And now some of the long range models are converging on a DIRECT HIT for SNE? :(

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