By Chris Gilberti | September 26, 2022
Autumn seems to have arrived right on cue here in Albany and the rest of the Northeast US. Fall officially began at 9:04 pm on Sept. 22 on what is known as the autumnal equinox, where the tilt of the earth’s axis changes just to the point where there is an equal amount of daytime and nighttime. As the tilt of the earth’s axis continues to change, days in the northern hemisphere will become shorter as it heads into winter, and days in the summer hemisphere will become longer as it heads into summer. Here in Albany, we can expect to lose around three minutes of daylight daily.
As expected, when the amount of daylight decreases, there are big impacts on weather patterns. With less time exposed to the sun, the northern hemisphere will start to see temperatures decrease, which has already begun. Temperatures at the beginning of this month were soaring into the upper eighties, while they are now struggling to reach the sixties. Behind a cold front that moved through the Northeast on Sept. 22, it seems that a cooler, fall-like pattern is here to stay for the time being with the season's first frost advisories posted by the National Weather Service for higher elevations in the Catskills and Adirondacks.
Now that it’s officially sweater weather and pumpkin spice latte season, there is really only one more missing piece of the puzzle, that being the beautiful fall foliage. As of the end of Sept., the trees are still mostly green here in the Albany area, but that should start to change in the coming weeks as fall really begins to settle in.
Fall Foliage in the Adirondack Mountains in 2019
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The timing and robustness of the color for fall foliage this year is dependent on multiple factors of weather, most importantly temperatures and moisture. Generally, with stretches of hot and dry weather, fall foliage is less vibrant and the timing of its arrival may vary from normal. For example, many in Aug. noticed the colors changing on some trees. This was not a result of fall coming in early, but actually an exceptionally hot and dry summer. Albany experienced two heat waves that were six days long where high temperatures hit ninety degrees or greater. It was also extremely dry, with much of the northeast experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions. This dried out many of the leaves, causing them to change color early and even fall off some trees. Moving into Sept., temperatures have begun to cool off significantly, and we have seen almost enough rain to bring us out of the drought. While it remains a tough forecast, some vibrant fall colors are definitely in the cards this fall.
In terms of timing, a transition to fall colors could begin quite soon. With many trees already starting to lose some foliage due to the hot and dry summer, if conditions are right we can certainly see colors starting to peak come mid-late Oct. with those colors starting in just the next few weeks. Ideal conditions for a transition to fall foliage are cool – but not freezing – nights, with clear and sunny days. The sun during the day causes an increase in sugar production in the leaves. This sugar builds up on cool nights as the leaves veins close, preventing it from being released, which turns the leaves yellow, orange, or red. If the fall-like pattern that has been pushing in remains around into Oct., and there are no large storms to knock the leaves off the trees early, those fall colors should be on their way in just the next few weeks.