Tourism | Why Upstate New York Fall Foliage Is Delayed This Year

Why Upstate New York Fall Foliage Is Delayed This Year


Fall foliage and leaf peeping are delayed this year in upstate New York; and you can blame it on the rain.

The summer rains this year pulled down all the sick leaves earlier than usual. That means the leaves left on the trees were working overtime to produce photosynthesis, now ensuring that the leaves stay greener, longer. The weather needs to get cold at night and dry in the day for the leaves to change hue.

Fall foliage is happening, but not quickly enough. According to the weekly fall foliage report, that is recorded by New York’s leaf peepers, bright leaves are starting to appear out in the Adirondacks.

Topography plays a role, so the higher altitude regions like Adirondacks and Catskills will see colors change first. More areas will start to see the colors changing from green to yellow to brown in the coming weeks, but the Department of Environmental Conservations (DEC) warns that they might not dazzle as much as they did, say, the last two years. 

Leaves get their color from chlorophyll. The other colors -- such as reds, yellow and oranges -- come out when leaves start to lose chlorophyll due to the lack of moisture and sunlight.  

The increased rains in Western New York in spring and summer led to the trees being green and lovely. This past July was the third wettest on record in Buffalo, with a monthly rainfall total of 7.49 inches.

But we like fall for the fall colors.

Maple trees in particular are slower to turn red this year and their canopies are thinner, but what is left could still get good color in the next couple of weeks, the statement said.

"Due to leaf disease, there are fewer leaves in the trees to get colorful and the defoliation we had from the LDD — the ‘gypsy moth' — caused a lot of “new' leaves in large areas and they may not turn bright colors before this fall," DEC said.

"It is predicted that the southern hurricane season will continue to send wet weather through the fall, which will not be good for bright colors or leaf retention in the trees," the agency said. "Therefore, it is likely we will have more browns, yellows, and rusty reds, more a spicy palette than the reds, pinks, and purples of a fruity palette."

The weekly fall foliage report is a great read. Keep track of it as you plan your own lead peeping escapades. The good thing is that everything is beautiful and a road trip is never wasted in upstate New York.

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In this article:   Fall | Upstate NY | Fall Colors | Climate Change |
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