Here’s Yankee magazine’s first fall foliage forecast of 2020

It has the potential for "a big color punch." 

Boston's Brighton neighborhood during a past foliage season. FareHarbor

What will New England’s famous fall foliage season look like this year? Yankee magazine just published its first fall foliage forecast, which predicts this year has the potential for “a big color punch.”

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“We had a strong start to the growing season, but then came an extremely dry, hot summer, said Jim Salge, Yankee‘s fall foliage expert, in a press release. “In drier years, leaves tend to turn a bit early and their color is often short-lived. Fortunately, theres still potential for a big color punch this year if the right weather scenario lines up.”

Salge said one of the following two scenarios will happen, depending upon the weather in the coming weeks:

Scenario 1: Since drought concentrates the sugars in leaves, our dry summer could actually lead to more intense foliage color, especially if its kick-started with an early cold spell. So the ideal scenario would be an active storm track from La Niña bringing cold fronts out of Canada early and often, leading to a vibrant display that makes up for in color what it might lack in longevity.

Scenario 2: The season is dominated by tropical weather activity, making for a longer-lasting display that, while perhaps less intense, will still delight leaf peepers with classic fall color. (As long as no big tropical storm decides to head our way, that is!)

“At this point, there is no way to know which scenario will come out on top, but we’ll be watching closely for our next update in mid-September,” Salge said. “After all, if 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected — and no matter which way things go, there’s still no better place to be than New England in the fall.”


Though some fall leaf peeping activities may change due to the coronavirus pandemic, Salge said he expects people will still get out and enjoy the foliage.

“Because of COVID-19 this year, this fall will be different, of course,” Salge said. “But the outdoors is among the safest places we can be, and many people have responded to the pandemic by getting more in touch with nature. Clearly, leaf peeping for 2020 will not be canceled. And though many of the activities that often accompany it may have to be adjusted, there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy the beautiful tapestry of colors and the crisp autumn weather.”


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