What kind of fall foliage should NJ expect this season?
Cool, crisp autumn days mean fall foliage is upon us. From now until November, people plan to flock to New Jersey's state parks and forests to check out the vibrant red, orange and yellow colors. But will it be a good season?
Leaves are already starting to change color in the northwest part of New Jersey, said state climatologist Dave Robinson. He says fall foliage will first appear in the higher elevations, then the valleys and eventually make its way into the southern part of the state over a matter of weeks, not days.
He said weather conditions affect foliage color. Trees are affected by reduced temperatures as we get into the fall season and reduced sunlight as the days get shorter.
Moisture conditions, not just temperature, affect the foliage as well. This year, there is abundant moisture and it's a little less certain of just what influence that has, but it's not nearly as negative as having too little moisture, said Robinson.
He said this year's fall foliage season in New Jersey is off to a slow start. Robinson said it's not unusual in recent years because the state has had a number of warm Septembers.
This September has the been third warmest on record and the sixth wettest dating back to 1895.
You really only have a one- to two-week window when you get the most vibrant foliage in any particular part of the state, said Robinson. That's dependent on whether we get a rainstorm and some strong winds as the foliage approaches peak. That peak, by the way, could be short-lived in that case.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see the peak foliage, which we'll often seen in the last two weeks of October, maybe sneaking into early November. I think it's going to be at least a week, if not two weeks delayed," said Robinson.
In order for the foliage to be its most vibrant, it needs to have warm days and cold nights. Robinson said cold nights are the one thing New Jersey has been lacking. He said we should have seen a freeze by now, especially in the northwest, but that hasn't happened. The nights have been pretty mild and that's not a good sign for fall foliage.
While Robinson doesn't think the fall foliage season here in New Jersey will be a total washout, "I don't anticipate it being the best show ever because it's going to be delayed and we're just not getting the cold nights to really increase the vibrancy."
To find the best places to see fall foliage in New Jersey, visit www.njhiking.com.