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Warm fall may jeopardize foliage displays in northeastern US

Though the summer season is winding down, forecasters are predicting a warm start to fall across the Northeast - a weather pattern that could spell bad news for fall foliage lovers.

AccuWeather meteorologists are calling for a warmer-than-normal fall for much of the nation, including the northeastern U.S., a region renowned for its expansive forests and vibrant seasonal foliage displays.

Dry conditions paired with warm weather, which is expected to stretch into the first half of autumn, may make the colors less dramatic than usual.

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"I think fall foliage this coming season will be actually hurting just a bit here in the Northeast," AccuWeather Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

Trees require certain cues in early autumn to signal foliar color change and leaf fall, Michael Day, associate research professor for Physiological Ecology at the University of Maine, told

The Northeast's lack of rainfall and absence of chilly air may stifle these processes.

"The trees will probably be too dry and the vibrant colors won't come out," Pastelok said. "If they do come out, they'll be short-lived and probably knocked down too fast to be enjoyed..."

September and October are critical months for the weather in fall foliage regions.

During this time, trees rely on a cold snap, particularly during the nighttime hours, which lasts for several days, Day said.

According to AccuWeather's 2016 U.S. fall forecast, typical cool shots will invade the region at times in October and November, but a persistent chill won't arrive until after the fall season.

Though leaf peepers may have to look elsewhere for dramatic displays of oranges and reds, Pastelok says the warmth may have more advantages than disadvantages.

Conditions will be ideal for those planning to attend fall festivals and outdoor sporting events or for anyone tackling outdoor projects, he said.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at or follow her on Twitter @Jillian_MacMath. Follow AccuWeather @breakingweather, or on Facebook.