For many today starts as the coolest morning of the late summer season with several spots from Springfield to Taunton in the 30s. There is a frost advisory up for northern sections of Maine, and New Hampshire as the growing season nears its end. Sunshine will boost temperatures quickly today as highs reach the middle 70s under a cloud free sky. A large and fairly intense storm will move through the Ohio valley Tuesday and into Canada on Wednesday. This storm will bring wind, rain, humidity and warm temperatures to the area before we cool off and dry out for later in the week. For frequent weather updates or to ask questions you can follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom
Another nearly perfect day to enjoy on this Rosh Hashanah Monday. This is the Jewish New Year and begins a 10 day period of reflection for many Jews across the world. The sunshine today move temperatures higher by over 30 degrees from their morning lows. Some places may increase temperatures by nearly 40 degrees by 3PM! I expect highs this afternoon to be within a degree or two of 75F. Winds will be light and humidity not noticeable.
Tomorrow clouds will increase and showers may begin as early as noon, but are more likely by the evening commute. Winds will be light to start the day but really pick up between 3PM and 5PM. I expect some gust of winds to reach as high as 30mph especially in more open south facing areas. While these winds are not damaging, they could knock down a few dead trees and isolated power outages are always a possibility. This summer, NSTAR pruned a lot of trees in many areas across the State. Hopefully, all the pruning will help lessen the number of power issues.
Tuesday night and Wednesday
The map above shows the position of the storm early tomorrow. By Tuesday night and into early Wednesday the cold front (blue line) will have moved closer to the east coast. Ahead of this front that strong southerly wind will bring humidity, warm temperatures and tropical downpours into the area. Many spots will see at least 1 inch of rainfall. Some areas could see up to 2 inches of rain between late Tuesday and mid-morning Wednesday. The two commutes that will be impacted most by this weather event will be Tuesday heading home from work and Wednesday heading back into work. This time of year the traffic tends to be heavy to begin with, so things could be quite slow when we add in the wind and rain.
Thursday and Friday
The end of the work week looks nice with a return to sunshine, cooler temperatures and no noticeable humidity. Temperatures will be in the upper 60s and lower 70s and winds will be mostly light.
Gardening this week
I wanted to give you a tour of the garden at it’s peak this week so we went around with the camera and took shots of some of my favorite spots in the garden. I hope you enjoy it.
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The foliage season ahead
What do the leaves change?
The leaves of plants are food making machines. They gather light, carbon dioxide (C02) and water and convert that to food for the plant. In addition to the food, the leaves give off oxygen for us to breathe. (Interestingly carbon dioxide levels of the entire planet go up in the winter and down in the summer. This predictable pattern is related to the foliage coming out and dropping.)
The food making process in the leaves is known as photosynthesis and it’s what keeps the plants growing. Deciduous plants, those that lose their leaves in fall, stop making food as the days get shorter. As the leaves die, chlorophyll is also no longer made. Chlorophyll is what gives the leaves their green hue and masks the reds, yellows and orange underneath. Once the leaves begin to shut down for the winter, the lack of chlorophyll allows us to enjoy the “true” colors of the leaves each autumn.
How good will the color be this year?
The health of the tree and especially the leaves, is a big factor in seeing vibrant colors. A wet summer allows the leaves to often be covered with disease. The result is that the colors end up more muted and dull. If we have a prolonged summer drought the leaves often fall early seeming to just dry up without much color. This year, we started spring with a drought and very warm weather. As the leaves emerged it turned cold and a bit wet, there was even some frost damage in May. June ended up being a below normal month of temperatures, the first such month in a year. The rest of the summer featured fairly typical weather with adequate rainfall and breaks in the heat. The western part of New England, especially the Berkshires has experienced some drought.
Where there is severe drought, especially in the Midwest, the color will definitely be negatively impacted this year. The general health the trees this year looks to be in good shape. Of course there are trees with disease however, I believe we are in good shape heading into the foliage season. The sweet spot for spectacular foliage seems to be a dry but not too dry late summer, cool nights, mild to warm days and not much wind. We seem to be getting that type of weather over the past few weeks and certainly again this week.
I do believe that the leaves coming out early and the weather on the drier and warmer side of average will help tip the scale toward a stellar foliage season as opposed to a dull one. Things that can impact this forecast would be several days of rainy cool weather, very windy weather in early October or very cold and even snowy weather with the leaves still on the trees.
When is peak?
The term peak doesn’t mean it’s the best time for viewing. I think the best color is when we are at about 50%-60% color and still have some green on the trees and less leaf drop. This is somewhat a personal an arbitrary opinion. By the time we get to the official peak week, there can be a lot of leaves on the ground. The maps below show where we are now, where we were last year in a couple of weeks and the average dates of peak foliage. I think we will be about 7-10 days early this year as compared to the average.