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Fall Foliage Forecast: Rest Of October Weather Will Determine If We See Peak Colors In NYC Area Come Mid-November

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- As trees protect themselves for winter and enter dormancy they put on quite the show for our enjoyment -- one that reveals leaves true colors.

But will leaf peeping this fall live up to expectations?

CBS2's Vanessa Murdock has your fall foliage forecast.

The view of Shawangunk Ridge through the lens of Drone Force 2 is breathtaking. A closer look shows the beauty of leaves changing color, though not that many. Green leaves still dominate the canopy.

"Normally, at this time of year, we'd be seeing a little more color," said Megan Napoli, a research ecologist at Mohonk Preserve.

Murdock met Napoli near the Testimonial Gateway Trailhead in New Paltz in the Pin Oak Alle, which will soon boast leaves of gold.

"Instead of next week being our peak, I expect it will be a little later than that," Napoli said.

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Napoli said too many overcast days as of late has meant the sun hasn't been able to break down the chlorophyll in green leaves.

Chlorophyll masks warm fall colors, said Carol Rietsma, a volunteer and retired ecology professor.

"They have yellow and orange pigments. When the chlorophyll dies in the fall, then you begin to see yellow and the oranges. The reds are really special because they're not a natural color. They're produced chemically in the leaves," Rietsma said.

Fall foliage
(Photo: CBS2)

Murdock caught up with Rietsma as she collected weekly data about the flora and fauna of the Preserve. She shared finally seeing a little color this week makes her feel, "exuberant."

Other factors also play into the delay, like temperature and precipitation. To date, this fall has been warm and wet, the opposite of optimal.

"Cool nights often tend to lend to more intense and prolonged foliage, as well as bright sunny clear days," said Eliot Nagele, director of Thain Family Forest at New York Botanical Garden.


Nagele said color change in and around New York City typically peaks in early to mid November. He added our forests are healthy. Still this month matters.

"A lot of what we see in October will guide what we see late in the season," Nagele said.

Here's hoping clear days and crisp nights make a comeback. The brilliance of your leaf peeping experience depends on it.

That's not all. High winds and pests can lead to trees dropping leaves prematurely. At Mohonk Preserve, Napoli observed some reduction foliage due to both, but said she still expects an incredible experience.

This report was first published on Oct. 6, 2021. 

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