With nighttime lows already dipping into the 30s and 40s, some Iowans are wondering if we’ll have an early fall and what impact the chill will have on the reds, browns, yellows and golds of the upcoming season.
Autumn doesn’t officially arrive until September 22nd, the same day the state will launch its Fall Colors Hotline. Paul Tauke, chief of the state D-N-R’s forestry bureau, says leaf-watching means big business for Iowa. "The fall foliage tour, people getting out and enjoying the colors, literally brings millions of dollars into our economy," Tauke says. "Northeast Iowa’s especially a hot spot."
Still, he admits it’s all up to Mother Nature. "If we get bright sunny days and cool evenings, we can expect pretty good bright color," Tauke says. "If we get an early frost, that’s going to cause the leaves to drop prematurely and we wouldn’t have much color at all, and if we get this rainy, dreary weather, then the color might be a little drab as well."
Tourists anywhere can keep close tabs on Iowa’s trees by calling the recorded state-run phone line. The number rings to an answering machine at the state forest nursery. Tauke says it provides information about the leaves in various parts of the state, telling where the best color is located and when the peak is expected. He says the colors should peak during the first few weeks of October.
To hear the official updates once the hotline is online, call (515) 233-4110. There’s also a fall color website .