MERIDEN – Central Connecticut residents will have to wait a little longer for peak foliage.
Heavy rain in recent weeks is delaying color change throughout New Haven County. The rain has provided moisture for leaves to retain their normal green color. The above seasonal temperatures so far this fall has also contributed to the delay.
“There’s been no reason for the leaves to change,” said Gary Lessor, assistant to the Director of Meteorological Studies at Western Connecticut State University. “They have had ample moisture and warmth to keep the leaves content.”
Cool nights and seasonal daytime temperatures cause leaves to send food down into a tree, dropping their chlorophyll levels and leaving behind a plethora of other pigments. According to Lessor, the temperature has been an average of 8.8 percent warmer than normal in recent weeks, which Lessor describes as “extremely unusual.”
“The larger influencing factor is the overnight temperature,” said Christopher Martin, state forester for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “We have had a few nights with temperatures dipping into the 40s but none in the 30s for central Connecticut so far this fall.”
Fortunately for leaf peepers, cooler temperatures are on the way.
”The weather pattern is definitely changing,” Lessor said. “We’ll see temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s soon, and that should help foliage colors.”
With colder temperatures on the horizon, residents can expect peak foliage in the Meriden-Wallingford area around the last week of October or the first week of November, according to Martin.
”Statewide, Connecticut is running about two weeks later than normal,” Martin said. “Cooler temperatures will cause the leaves to change color quicker, so we could catch up to more normal conditions.”
Martin estimates peak foliage to last a week or two, barring any significant rain or wind storms. The foliage level will be up to par with normal years, which should make the color changes worth the wait.
“I think we will have average color,” Martin said of the color gradient levels once peak foliage arrives. “We’ve seen better years, but 2018 will not disappoint.”