With the start of fall this week, lows across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have plummeted into the 30s and 40s at times, providing a sufficient cold blast to encourage the emergence of vibrant colors in autumn leaves.
"The weather between mid-September and mid-October is critically important to fall colors," Dr. Marc Abrams, professor of Forest Ecology and Physiology at Penn State University, said. "The period is often more important than all the preceding weather."
Coupled with other factors, temperatures around 40 F are ideal for boosting the vibrancy of the foliage.
With a frost and freeze occurring in parts of New York and areas farther north early in September and a few chilly nights forecast in the near future, the Northeast will be in ‘good shape' for leaf-peepers across the region, Dr. Michael Day, University of Maine research professor of Physiological Ecology, said.
According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "While there can be a touch of frost in the coldest spots of northern New England and upstate New York at midweek, lows most nights through the remainder of the week will be in the 40s in the central and northern Appalachians and will trend upward into the weekend."
The vibrancy of leaves in the Northeast typically peaks in late September through early October, depending on the state; however, Day believes peaks could occur slightly later than normal this year.
"Only the most moisture-stressed individuals have started turning in central Maine, with about 10 percent color in northern Maine," he said.
While early-season tourists and locals who venture out for foliage tours this weekend may not see the ‘exceptional' colors Day has forecast for the region, they will get a rare opportunity to view the sights while leaving their coats and hot cocoa at home.
Temperatures will rebound from the chilly lows in the upper 30s to highs in the 70s for much of the interior Northeast.
The highs won't challenge records, but they will make spending the day outdoors more comfortable.
"Early indications suggest that this weather pattern may persist all the way into the first days of October before cooler, more fall-like conditions make a return to the Northeast," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Lada said.
As temperatures plummet and chilly winds begin to blow this fall, the AccuWeather RealFeel® temperature can help you determine what it actually feels like outside. Factoring in wind, sun angle, cloud cover and many other factors, this patented index can help you better prepare and dress for changeable fall weather.