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Okay...I know this is beginning to be a habit. But bear with me. Mr. Swails is (again) under the weather. So (again) you are stuck with me. But this time I did my homework and have some weather information to impart to you.

Leaf is time! You can experience the best of Mother Nature without it costing you a dime. Of course each area differs as to when is the best time to see ...well...the best of Mother Nature. But we have reached the point where you really can't miss.

There are several different applications to help you find the rosiest leaves. TripSavvy is one of the resources to help plan your ultimate leaf peeping trip.

So here's the deal. Peak fall color will occur in northwest Iowa next weekend. (Usually around October 10th on average.) For the southern half of Iowa, plan on the colors peaking about a week after the 10th. To break it all down. The Northern tier of counties to hit peak colors will be from September 28th to October 14th. For the central counties from the Fort Dodge to the Des Moines area...the peak season is from October 6th to October 21st. Down south (in Iowa) the best times to check out the leaves is from October 14th through the 31st!

if you really, really want to make sure you hit the colors just right. There is a number to call. Iowa's foliage hotline is 515 233 4110.

Plus If you think the season is changing more quickly than in past years, you can thank our lack of rainfall for that little issue.

According to Kandice Weigel, administrative assistant of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' State Forest Nursery, the color change is already beginning in southern Iowa because of the extremely dry conditions.

"When they (trees) don't have enough moisture, they'll start to go into dormancy," she said in an interview to the Des Moines Register, "They need moisture and they need cool nights. And usually, the light change — when we have less light as the days get shorter — that cues them to change, too.

"But that dryness is cuing them to push into dormancy earlier."

Weigel guessed our colors would come earlier than expected.

"It's probably too early to call how good the fall color is going to be," she said. "In the dry areas, it might be a little bit earlier."

But there is no question that fall is one of the best reasons to live in the Midwest. The warm days. The cool nights. The wedgwood blue skies and the golden fields. There is a reason Grant Wood became famous for his art. It captures the best of what we have to offer. Including the incomparable Autumn season.

Enjoy your time. The cold winds of change are just around the corner.


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