Thank Hurricane Irene for Brilliant Fall Foliage in Northeast

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Shobeir Ansari / Flickr / Getty Images

Amidst the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irene, there is a small silver lining:  New England states can expect particularly lovely colors as their leaves change this autumn.

The devastating hurricane ravaged New England in late August, resulting in flooding and extensive damage to many areas.  However, though some isolated trees were felled, most forests and heavy woods were spared.  Since the storm arrived early in the foliage season, leaves were not yet loosened and ready to drop, so they have clung on.

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Additionally, the heavy rains that accompanied the hurricane have kept the soil moist, which helps leaves stay longer on the trees, thus extending the period of foliage.

Leaf peeping draws many tourists to New York, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire this time of year.  When the trees stop producing chlorophyll to prepare for the cold winter, their green color fades, and we are left with beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows to admire.

State visitor bureaus are letting tourists know that they are open for business, despite continued recovery efforts from the storm’s damages.  The State of Vermont tourism site declares, “Vermonters have pulled out all the stops to repair the roads and communities that were affected [by the hurricane]…If you have plans to come visit, please keep them; we would love to see you and our businesses need you now more than ever.”  In Vermont alone, tourists spend about $330 million during the six-week period of peak foliage, according to MSNBC.  At least this season, those who are undeterred will find a beautiful display of fall’s bounty all over the region.

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Allison Berry is a contributor at TIME.  You can continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.