Superstorm Sandy Brings Foliage Season to Dramatic End

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It’s hard to believe that we’re again ending foliage season in New England with yet another historic storm. Last year, we experienced both Irene and ‘Snowtober,’ and this year, a we endured a not so welcome visit from Sandy, a hybrid Nor’easter / Hurricane Superstorm.

Though the landfall of the storm’s center circulation was in Southern New Jersey, the effects of this monster cyclone were felt many hundreds of miles from eye wall. Shorelines from Connecticut to Maine saw storm surge, powerful swells and flooding, while the interior was buffeted by winds that likely exceeded hurricane force in every New England state.

Images of lovely leaves suddenly seem of little importance when compared to the unfathomable images we are seeing of our neighbors now, and with that perspective, we can reflect upon the privilege we have to spend good times, carefree times enjoying our beautiful landscape.

And yet, leaves and foliage write an important footnote in the story of this storm.

Foliage this year came early, and more importantly to this story, fell early across most of New England. Many more trees than usual were bare at the time of Sandy’s arrival, and this likely limited the damage when her gales came through. The tree canopy generally fared well with the storm, but with the exception of a few isolated locations, the foliage season came to an end with the storm’s exit.

Jeff Newcomer

Leaves Are Down Early, and The Woods Are Bare in Most New England Areas

Looking back, this foliage season was otherwise generally pleasant, and the colors, for the most part, appealing. The best foliage was found up in the far north, as early and mid-September featured perfect weather for the production of red pigments in these areas. By the end of September, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, the Northern White Mountains and Northern Maine were simply glowing, and locals were calling it the best foliage season in years. I tended to agree!

Unfortunately, a prolonged period of gray weather in late September and into October reduced the bold colors in many other areas of the region, but it was pretty none the less. The foliage season on was also a bit compressed this year, with leaves not lasting on the tree for long after peak. Though many initially grumbled at the short season, as we mentioned earlier, this ultimately turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Early Color Was Very Strong in Far Northern Zones This Year

Early Color Was Very Strong in Far Northern Zones This Year

With the leaves gone, New England is now complete with its’ pre-winter look. Soon the snow will fall, and we can look forward to skiing and snowshoeing and ice-fishing, and all the activities that a long cold winter affords. Winter brings its own kaleidoscope of colors to the region, from decorative lights on houses to alpenglow on ridges. As a special treat this winter, the solar maximum increases our odds of seeing the Aurora Borealis light up our long nights.  There’s plenty to look forward to in all seasons in New England!

As a last piece of book-keeping, the YankeeFoliage.com photo contest will continue accepting entries through November 15th, and please continue to share your images and stories of autumn on our Facebook page.

I want to thank everyone for following along as we shared the story of New England’s fall season, and I hope you found this blog both enjoyable and informative.

We’ll see you next year!


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