BOSTON (CBS) – Sunshine, 70s, and a still growing garden. Doesn’t sound like late October in New England, but here we are! It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say there’s never been an autumn like this across the region. No frost on the pumpkin, a lot of green trees heading into Halloween week, and warm coastal waters. Crisp and cool fall has been overhead circling the tarmac somewhere and failed to touch down.
The records have been piling up as we await the first legitimate cold shot of the season. There hasn’t been a single cooler than average day yet in October. Here’s just a few notables set in Boston:READ MORE: Brookline teachers go on strike, schools closed Monday
– Latest day for the first high in the 60s (September 29th)
– Latest wait for first night in the 40s (October 18th)
– Most autumn nights staying at or above 60F (29 so far)
– Warmest fall on record to-date
Is it just a city thing? Certainly not. We can look at cities and rural spots, valleys and mountains, and find an avalanche of records for lack of cold. Not a single observation site in southern New England has reached the freezing mark yet and there won’t be a chance until the final week of October.
In Connecticut, there still haven’t been any nights in the 30s at Bradley Airport, which tends to be a local cool spot at night. They’ve dipped into the 30s as early as late August before! But the first chance this go around looks to be sometime early next week. The previous record-long wait was October 15th.
Out in the Berkshires we find a similar story. Pittsfield went all the way to October 18th before dipping into the 30s, beating out 10/15/2018. Even more striking is that before 2018, the site had never made it to October without a night in the 30s before.
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The coolest night in Worcester through October 1st is 39F. No years on record had a minimum temperature so warm through October 21st. Four days with highs in the 50s so far ties the fewest on record to-date.
Up north we go, to Vermont and Maine. Mount Mansfield, the tallest peak in the Green Mountain State, took all the way until October 19th before hitting the freezing mark. That obliterates the previous record by nearly 2 weeks (October 6th, 2011). Burlington still hasn’t made it to the 30s, and it’ll be a record whenever they finally do.
And finally, we travel to Maine, where chilly Caribou has failed to reach freezing. They’ll crush their longest wait to frost, which previously had been October 17th.
We can see the impact from the lack of cold on land and in the sea. Monarchs are still hatching and hanging around to enjoy flowers still in bloom before their annual trip south. The far less enjoyable mosquitoes and flies are still out there biting, even in the typically cooler spots that are used to getting a hard frost in late September or early October. And fishermen are reporting that many of the warmer-water fishes are hanging around, instead of migrating south for the winter. The Gulf of Maine is the warmest on record for this time of year.
The signature of the season, fall foliage, is undeniably weird this year. It’s late thanks to the warmth and very wet conditions of summer into early autumn. The lack of cool nights will stunt the show this year, creating pockets of nice color but not an all-around great year for vibrancy. Whenever the trees hold on to their leaves longer, we also start to run the risk of early snows producing damage. 2011 was a bigtime reminder of that, when a warm fall all the sudden crashed down with record snowfall and outages that lasted over two weeks in spots.
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What are the culprits for this unseasonable stretch? One is a very “stuck” pattern with a trough in the west and ridge across the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. It has essentially sat in exactly the same position for weeks now and doesn’t show many signs of wanting to change up. The other is that climate change loads the dice in favor of warmer weather. Anyone who spends time outside has probably noticed this, particularly in fall and winter. Blue Hill Observatory has notched its 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 9th warmest falls in just the past decade. This year may add another to that “Top 10” list.