Historic Snows Bring End to New England Foliage Season
Two feet of snow in falling October has brought about a bit of an abrupt end to the foliage season, but after one of the more atypical foliage seasons in years, I guess little would have surprised me. The season began with an over hundred year rainstorm, so why not end it with an over hundred year snowstorm.
On Halloween, 86% of the Northeast had snow cover, which averaged more than 4 inches in depth. At the Yankee Magazine headquarters in Dublin, New Hampshire, there was over two feet, and in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, there were locations that received more than 30 inches. I’ve seen heavy snow in the mountains in October before, and have seen a quick inch accumulate in October squalls elsewhere, but this storm simply has no parallel until you look back all the way to the 1830’s.
The late foliage season this year, and the abnormal autumn weather up to this point has unfortunately added to the damage caused by this storm. Leaves which usually rest under the trees this time of year still clung steadfast to the branches, trapping snow and dragging them down. The added weight contributed to over two million customers losing power during this storm in the New England region.
For the optimists though, the storm provided rare opportunities to witness a beautiful clashing of the seasons, with fresh snow accentuating the late color on the trees. Photographers Jeff Newcomer and Scott Snyder, both of New Hampshire, shared pictures that are stunning in simplistic beauty, captured among the chaos of conditions around them. Perhaps you also captured some photographs for the YankeeFoliage.com photo contest in this storm as well, as the deadline is now fast approaching.
The snowstorm, as well as turn of the calendar page ends my time sharing in this autumn season with you each week. The season began with so much promise, but a persistent pattern of abnormal autumnal weather reduced the show in many areas. In the far north, a few early cold nights kick started the foliage on time, and the show was beautiful in the northern and western mountains of New Hampshire, and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Then the rains came. And kept coming. A lack of cold air and an over abundance of soil moisture exacerbated a anthracnose fungus outbreak, causing leaves that were ready to turn to get held up, turn brown, and fall prematurely. Generally across the majority of New England, the year turned out to be below average in terms of color. In fact, many areas never truly saw a peak this year. The maples and birches fell early, and the oaks and beeches turned late. There was a lull in color occurring when the traditional peak times would normally be. And the leaves that didn’t fall early hung on late, adding to the problems we are seeing now. In fact, even as this blog draws to a close and with snow on the ground, there will still be lingering color in many areas, especially Boston proper, and Southern Connecticut and Rhode Island for a few weeks.
It wasn’t all bad news this year. Weather on the busiest tourism and leaf peeping weekend of the year was beyond postcard perfect for four straight days. Record high temperatures and endless views had people flocking to trail heads and overlooks in numbers I’d never seen in the region on Columbus Day. Agricultural fairs and pick your own farm offered all the usual joys of the autumn season, and the apple harvest was fantastic throughout New England this year. It was a year that many recognized that autumn in New England isn’t just about the leaves, and the culture of autumn activities is what helps draw so many to the region each year.
Often throughout this autumn while traveling, or here on the blog, I was asked if fall was my favorite season. My honest answer is that in New England, the next season is my favorite season, as there’s so much to look forward to every time of year. My thoughts now turn to snowshoeing many of the trails I hiked this autumn. To thoughts of sitting in ski lodges sipping on hot chocolate between runs. To the sights and smells of the holiday season. I’ll be continuing to photograph and write and wander around New England this coming winter and spring and summer sharing my experiences on my personal website and Facebook page.
As we sign off for the season on this blog, I’d like to thank the readers for all the feedback that I’ve received this year. These reports would not have been possible without so many of you responding to the blog, emailing me and sharing your stories and foliage reports on our Facebook Page.
Thanks for following along, and we’ll see you next year as the colors begin to turn!