It’s hard to think of a better forecast for the week ahead than this one: mostly dry, with few isolated Tuesday showers and seasonal temperatures, meaning daily highs of 60 to 65 and pre-dawn lows of 40 to 45.
For those of us who consider early and mid fall to be the best time of year in the Berkshires, almost par with late spring, the prospects for the next 10 days are hard to beat.
Monday should be the mildest day of the week, despite partly cloudy skies, followed by more clouds on Tuesday, but only an external chance of rain. From Wednesday to Saturday mostly clear skies, plenty of sunshine during the day and fresh, cool nights, ideal for stargazing when the moon is waning and cloud-free evenings.
After three months of turbulent weather, unusual rainfall, and excessive tropical heat and humidity, the forecast seems to be a welcome respite for residents and visitors, who flock to the region with cameras ready for postcard photography, at least until the second week of October.
The Climate Prediction Center’s long-term outlook for western New England predicts slightly above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall for the next two weeks.
Much of the nation is also enjoying a quiet start to the new week.
Exceptions are the deserts in the southwest, where severe thunderstorms and flooding concerns persist until Tuesday morning. Humid and dreary weather moves through the Pacific Northwest and heads towards the Great Basin states of Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
Meanwhile, parts of southern Oregon, northwestern Nevada, and northern / central Sierra Nevada have issued warnings of red flags and fire guards.
Fall weather is a late arrival in the Great Plains and the Midwest with well above average highs well into the upper 80s and low 90s. Warm temperatures, low relative humidity and gusty winds could lead to critical fire weather in parts of the central and southern plains. Red flag warnings have been issued for parts of south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma.
Later this week, heavy rains could soak the southern parts of the Rockies and Plains. Isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected in South Florida, with highs around 85. Most of the west should be below normal temperatures by the end of this week and into next weekend.
Fall foliage preview
Splashes of color are starting to brighten the Berkshire countryside, and the start of the fall foliage season is a few days behind schedule.
“The classic canopy drive really is the most time-honored tradition of getting cider donuts and enjoying a country road,” said Jim Salge, Yankee Magazine foliage expert and former meteorologist at Mount Washington, New Hampshire. “Normal weather brings the best foliage because the trees are used to the prevailing climate in which they grow,” he told USA Today. “Areas where almost normal weather has occurred will experience the best color.”
Here in western New England and the surrounding region, from New York’s Adirondacks to the Atlantic coast, it was anything but normal. The amount of precipitation has doubled or tripled since the end of June.
But northern New England was relatively dry, and it is here that the most vivid and earliest color can be spotted easily and early.
But the climax will be short, emphasized Salge.
“For central and southern New England, which are well watered, preparation for fall remains encouraging,” said Salge.
The foliage lasts longer after a wet summer, he emphasized.
“We expect a season in central and south New England that is either on time or later than historical average,” he said.
In Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York State, the peak of fall foliage usually occurs in late September and the first week of October. But this year it could be closer to the second week of October, AccuWeather.com predicts.
Normal foliage watching spans six weeks, so the October 8-11 holiday weekend is the go-to destination for the Berkshires and southern Vermont this year. However, the south coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island doesn’t peak until late October or early November, a little later than average.
This week’s eye opener from the “Who Knew?” Desk: The Washington Post reports that about a quarter of Americans eat less meat, many are alarmed that ranching causes up to 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But for all of the people who observe meatless assemblies, opt for Impossible burgers, or forego meat altogether, 180 million furry members of the US household are fed beef, lamb, poultry or pork in almost every meal.
Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles estimate that dogs and cats account for up to 30 percent of the environmental impact of US meat consumption. If American pets made their own country, they would eat the fifth most meat in the world, the Post’s climate desk points out.
Driven by a surge in pet purchases caused by a coronavirus pandemic, Americans are now spending more than $ 40 billion annually on pet food and treats – with many stores selling almost exclusively traditional meat-based options.
But – wait! – The two largest pet food companies Mars and Nestlé are developing insect-based alternatives for dogs and cats. A Petco survey found that 55 percent of customers like the idea of using sustainable alternative protein ingredients in pet food.
According to Francesca Mahoney, Petco’s head of sustainability, Millennials, the fastest growing segment of pet parenting, are keen and willing to pay the premium to buy environmentally friendly products.