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

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a New England tradition unlike any other. The changing of the guard. The greens of summer begin to fade and a rolling wave of autumnal color explodes from north to south across the region. When you capture the changing foliage at just the right time and place there is nothing else like it.

For my money, October is the quintessential month in the Northeast. Nothing feels more like New England than this time of year. The comfy, blue sky days and crisp and cool nights should be trademarked “Made in New England.” It is the arrival of the cooler, drier air that starts the whole foliage process, something that frankly, has yet to begin in earnest this year.

So, what’s the deal with the fall color? Where is it?

The three day weekend coming up is almost always the best foliage weekend of the fall with the largest area of peak or near peak conditions. But this year has been anything but “typical.” Take a drive northward right now and you will see a LOT of green. All the way up past Lake Winnipesaukee and into the southern White Mountains the foliage is spotty at best with more greens than yellows and reds.

You have to go all the way up towards the Canadian border to see peak colors right now – that’s about 1-2 weeks later than normal. The story is the same in just about all of central and southern New England this year – late. You may remember, last year the foliage was earlier than normal, exactly the opposite.

Why the sudden change in just the last year? Of course, we blame the weather.

Last year the region was in varying degrees of drought. Trees were stressed by the lack of water. We also had an early cold snap in September (with several early frosts) which forced nature to speed up its internal clock. By this time in 2020, most of northern New England was past peak with massive amounts of leaf drop. We were already nearing peak in portions of central and southern New England and it seemed fall was racing by.

This year couldn’t be more different.

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We have gone from a drought to record amounts of water in a very short period of time. Boston just recorded its wettest July-August-September stretch on record and stands more than a foot above the average rainfall for the year thus far. It has also been quite warm. This June was the warmest ever recorded in the City. August and September were both the second warmest ever recorded. There has been no sign of frost or real cold anywhere nearby.

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The result of all this warm and wet weather has been a massive delay to the foliage season. Mother Nature just isn’t ready for pumpkin beverages just yet. Our fall’s have been trending warmer and later in recent years, but this year has been even more dramatic.

Having said all that, there are still some great places to go this weekend if you want to see some color.

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Some suggestions include the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Smugglers Notch, Stowe, Vermont, Rangeley, Maine and Gorham, New Hampshire. Franconia, New Hampshire is also getting there in some areas.

You may be a bit disappointed in Conway New Hampshire, Woodstock Vermont and Sebago Maine, they just aren’t quite all the way there yet. Color is near peak in most of the central and northern Green Mountains in Vermont, so road trips to Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury would yield nice results.

NewEngland.com is a great place to go if you are looking for some suggestions on scenic foliage drives, their pick for this weekend is Bridgeton, Maine. If you are going for a hike in the White Mountains, you will certainly notice a change in seasons with altitude with greens at the base and bursts of color above 2,000 feet. Some of the higher mountains will be past their fall color peak at the summits.

After a few more days in the 70s, Thursday and Friday, the weather this weekend will feel more like fall.

Temperatures in southern New England will peak out in the low to mid 60s and northern New England will largely be in the 50s by day and 40s at night.

We will start the weekend dry, but will need to keep a close eye on an area of rain south of New England. At this point, models are in disagreement on whether we will stay dry and protected by an area of high pressure or whether that will break down and allow for rain here on Sunday and Monday.

We will have more on that forecast in the coming days on WBZ-TV, CBSBoston.com and CBSN Boston.

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ