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To say it's been dry in Minnesota this year is a bit of an understatement, and now the ongoing drought could even impact those brilliant autumn colors this fall.

The ongoing drought may have lessened somewhat here in southeast Minnesota within the past week, with the latest National Weather Service Drought Monitor saying conditions in most of Olmsted, Fillmore, Houston, and Wabasha counties are now rated as just "abnormally dry."

But in other parts of the state, that's not the case. In fact, NWS says that close to 42 percent of central and northern Minnesota are still experiencing "extreme drought" right now. And that could have an impact on our annual fall colors.

I was thinking that perhaps the dry weather would affect the brilliance of the leaves as they change colors, leaving them less colorful. But, as it turns out, while that may not be the case, those familiar autumn colors could happen earlier in the fall this year, all thanks to the drought.

According to BringMeTheNews, all this dry weather (and even if we're not technically in a drought right now in southeast Minnesota, it's still been unusually dry this spring and summer) will no doubt cause our fall colors to get here earlier than normal this year:

"The drought has already had an impact," Val Cervenka, the Minnesota DNR's forest health program coordinator, told Bring Me The News on Wednesday. "I have reports of leaves already changing color."

The Minnesota DNR says those brilliant yellow, orange and red colors typically don't start appearing on tree leaves in Minnesota until mid-September in the very northern part of the state, with much of the central part of the state seeing leaves start to change colors from mid-September through early-October. Here in Rochester and southeast Minnesota, our peak colors usually occur in late September through mid-October.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Of course, exactly when they change and hit their peak is always kind of a guessing game. But given how dry it's been this year, you'll want to plan your fall color tour earlier than usual this year. (And, you can keep track of when the leaves will be at their peak with the DNR's Fall Color Finder.)

And keep scrolling to check out some way-cool road trips that will give you some amazing views here in Minnesota, no matter when the leaves change colors this year!

Listen to Curt St. John mornings from 6 to 10 on Quick Country 96.5
and afternoons from 2 to 6 on 103.9 The Doc

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