Autumn arrives as daylight grows short
CAPITAL REGION It’s likely that fall slipped in today while you were still snug in your warm nest.
The official arrival time for the autumnal equinox, when the sun crosses the imaginary celestial equator, was 5:05 this morning.
Don’t expect to notice any dramatic changes — not right away — but from this day forward, the temperatures will steadily decline as the hours of daylight continue to shrink, leading up to the shortest day of the year on Dec. 21.
House plants should come back inside, waterfowl head south, ponies begin to grow new winter coats and the occasional wisp of a wood fire is detected in the evening air.
For those not ready for the end of summer, there is the possibility of a brief reprieve. Indian summer — a period of unusual warmth and sunshine following the first killing frost — is always a possibility well into November.
The autumnal equinox — from the Latin for “equal night” — is a day in September when the periods of night and day are roughly, but not precisely, the same. Today’s sunrise will be at 6:43 a.m., and sunset will be 6:51 p.m.
Night and day will be exactly the same length, 12 hours, on Monday, after which dark begins to gain on daylight.
It’s a bittersweet time of year. Summer is done, Thanksgiving is around the corner and the approach of winter is increasingly evident.
Fall in the Northeast means brilliant foliage displays, seasonal festivals, apple picking, cider doughnuts, harvesting and displaying later crops like pumpkins, canning, bolstering the firewood supply and generally bracing for colder weather.
In these parts, it also means hot air balloons.
The Adirondack Balloon Festival opened Thursday in Glens Falls and shifts to the Warren County airport in Queensbury today through Sunday, but wet weather could scuttle the scheduled launches.
The National Weather Service is predicting rain today and tonight and intermittently through the weekend and into early next week.
Over the longer term, the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a folksy source of weather lore and prognostication, says October temperatures will be a half-degree above average with precipitation of 4 inches — an inch above normal for the Capital Region.
From November on, the outlook is for temperatures colder than normal but lower than average precipitation, including snowfall, according to the almanac’s calculations.
As for fall foliage, expect some areas of the Adirondacks — Tupper Lake in Franklin County in particular — to be displaying almost peak colors this weekend, according to field observers for the state’s fall foliage report on www.iloveny.com. Expect about 30 percent change in the Lake Placid area and in Indian Lake in Hamilton County.
In the Catskills, colors are approaching their midpoint this weekend, and in the Capital Region, expect a 20-30 percent color change in the Schenectady area, about 5 percent in Albany and 20 percent in the Thacher Park area of Voorheesville.
In Saratoga County, the leaf peepers report, the change is early, around 10 percent, with pockets of red, yellow and orange.