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

BOSTON (CBS) – Hard to believe that summer is just about done.  This Saturday at 9:54 p.m., the autumnal equinox will arrive and we will officially usher in the season of pumpkin beverages and fall colors. Typically by now, we have had a few tastes of fall, with a couple real chilly nights and cool, crisp days.

This year has not been typical.  After one of the warmest meteorological summers on record (June-July-August), September has started equally as warm.  Boston has only dipped below 60 degrees twice at night (barely, 59 and 57 degrees on Sept 8-9) and the humidity has remained fairly high as well.

(WBZ graphic)

So that begs the question: How will our fall foliage season be impacted by all this warm and recently wet weather?

Not surprisingly, the weather plays a vital role in the arrival, length and quality of the fall colors.  And it isn’t just the fall weather that matters, but really the entire years’ worth of weather dating back to last winter.

So, our prediction of color in fall of 2018 starts way back in the frigid days of January.

(WBZ graphic)

You may remember we had a bitterly cold January followed by a very mild February.  In fact, many were thinking winter was wrapping up early after some 70 and 80 degree days in mid to late February.  There was a real danger (if the warmth had continued) of buds coming out too early and getting killed by a late winter frost. Then of course, March arrived and winter returned with a vengeance. Several nor’easters pounded the area and it seemed as though the spring warmth would never arrive.  All in all, the late winter didn’t have any real adverse effects on the trees other than postponing some of the budding by a week or two.

Once the spring did finally arrive and the trees began to bud, we went into a dry period, and drought became a real concern again as we headed into summer. But as you know, this summer was anything but dry. After several extended periods of humid and stormy weather, drought concerns soon came to an end.  Once again, fall color disaster avoided!

(WBZ graphic)

The ideal September conditions for fall color are warm, sunny days and cool nights with an adequate amounts of rainfall.  OK, so rainfall, check. But cool nights, yeah not yet.  Therefore, I think the foliage season (much like last year) will be a bit delayed this year.  Current long-range forecasts show perhaps a day or two of fall-ish chill in the next 7-10 days with the real fall-feel weather arriving in late September and early October.  And once the chill arrives, the colors will literally burst to life!

So expect scattered pockets of color in northern New England in the next week and then a sudden burst to life in the 8-14 day range.  Columbus Weekend can sometimes be a bit past peak in the highest elevations of the White and Green Mountains, but this year, with a delayed start, it may line up perfectly.

(WBZ graphic)

Peak color in the Lakes Region and lower elevations in southern New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine should be around mid-October this year (again a bit late).  And down in southern New England, we are looking at late October for an absolute peak, again with scattered pockets of color in mid-October especially in some of the cooler, valley locations.

All-in-all it looks like an above-average foliage season in 2018, albeit delayed a week or two.  As long as we avoid any major wind storms in the coming weeks that could take leaves off the trees prematurely we should be good to go!

(WBZ graphic)

Stay tuned to WBZ-TV and, we will provide weekly foliage updates and let you know where to go to find the best colors this season!

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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