MINNEAPOLIS - Experts are not overly optimistic about this year's fall color season after a hot dry summer.
Jeff Gillman, a University of Minnesota Extension Horticulturist explains, "We're looking at a lot of stress this year, a lot of drought. So we're probably looking at earlier fall color and unfortunately drought stress means it will probably be shorter than normally occurs."
And Retta James-Gasser, a Naturalist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources agrees, "With a noticeable drought, it really dulls the leaves, and sometimes it causes that noticeable die back."
But there were some rainy days this summer.
Assistant State climatologist Pete Boulay knows that, "What you have is this patchwork of places that got a lot of rain, to places that got missed by the storms over the summer."
Location of that rainfall is everything. A lot more of it fell in the eastern half of the state, especially northeastern. Suggesting that that might be where fall color seekers, may have more luck.
"It can vary quite a bit from one county to the next. Certainly some areas are wetter than others and it might vary from place to place what kind of colors you get because of it," says Boulay.
"It can even change, let's say, within a couple of miles, depending on where the rain fell," adds James-Gasser.
There is a glimmer of hope left.
Gillman says, with a smile, "We're not too late yet, things could still be reversed. A little bit of rain could straighten things out."
The DNR offers a wealth of fall color information, including a fall color app for iPhone and Android on their website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/index.html.
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