Warm September Temperature Delaying Fall Foliage

The warm September temperatures we have all been enjoying are delaying the fall foliage season in New England, according to reports. The states of Vermont and Maine were mostly green this week, while New Hampshire saw some color in the north. Northern Maine was nearing its peak this time last year.

Warm September Temperature Delaying Fall Foliage - Clapway

Every fall, leaf peepers flock in droves to the New England area of the country to see Mother Nature work her glorious magic. It is estimated that 3.5 million people visit Vermont each fall season. Leaves turn from green to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows offering breathtaking views of the picturesque landscape. So what’s taking so long this year?

The Science Behind Fall Foliage

A brief refresher on photosynthesis. Plants use sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar through a process called photosynthesis, which means “putting together with light.” The chemical called chlorophyll helps make this happen and it is also responsible for giving plants their green color. As autumn arrives and the days get shorter, the trees start preparing for winter when there is not enough light and air for photosynthesis. Thus, the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the leaves lose their green, we start to see lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow.

We’ll See Our Beloved Fall Colors Soon Enough, Experts Say

Although the fall foliage is slow to arrive this year, Paul Schaberg, a plant physiologist with the U.S. Forest Service, has stated that most trees are beginning to gradually lose their green color. However, in a period like this, “where we have a pretty mild early fall or late summer, your not going to see a broad scale change in color just yet.”

Tim Fleur, forester for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, is not worried about the abundance of green still around. He projects that fall foliage will take off in the last part of September, leaving us with a good three weeks to enjoy the colors.

This means you have about a week or so to wait before packing your bags and heading for New England to see the natural splendor of fall. Some of the best spots for leaf peeping are The Berkshires, The Catskills, Acadia National Park in Maine, and the Connecticut River Valley.


Catherine Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, travel, space, and human interest. In addition to writing for Clapway, Catherine works with artists, leads street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.