Minnesota’s much-anticipated annual pop of fall color could be more vibrant and earlier than usual this year.
The Twin Cities had above normal amounts of precipitation in August, and all that rain could now help produce more brilliant fall colors, peaking sooner if cool, crisp nights and warm September days continue, said Matthew Russell, a University of Minnesota Extension forest resources specialist.
South-central and southeastern Minnesota are expected to have peak color sooner than usual, said DNR spokeswoman Patricia Arndt.
“It’s going to be a beautiful year to get out for the fall colors,” she said.
As travelers, hikers and state parks crews start to track trees for signs of fall color, the state Department of Natural Resources on Thursday will launch its online tracker, weekly updating the color status at state parks.
Fall colors typically peak from mid-September to early October in northern Minnesota, from late September to early October in the state’s central third, and from late September to mid-October in southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.
But weather plays a big role, so it’s difficult to precisely forecast the fall foliage.
“It favors the last-minute planner,” Arndt said.
Starting Thursday, the DNR’s fall color finder also will list the DNR’s three recommendations of the week for places to view fall colors (dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors).
Explore Minnesota (exploreminnesota.com), the state’s tourism promotion office, will send weekly fall color updates starting Sept. 14. Spokeswoman Alyssa Hayes said there’s been an increase in buzz on social media about fall travel in the state.
The panoramic show put on by Mother Nature draws more than just Minnesotans, with fall travel accounting for about 25 percent of the state’s $14.4 billion travel industry — more than spring or winter travel, according to Explore Minnesota.
Even at the DNR, state parks have an influx in daily permit sales every fall, Arndt said.
“There’s just something that stirs the spirit being out in fall colors,” she said. “We kind of take it for granted we have four seasons.”