SIOUX CITY — Leaves on trees around the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center and adjacent Stone State Park were relatively green until Tuesday, when fall colors began to show dramatically.
“We see a lot of yellows and oranges, which are mostly poplars, walnuts and oaks,” said naturalist Kari Sandage, who also noted Wednesday that the sumac is bright red, at the moment.
If you want to take advantage of fall hues, now is the time. Sandage said the Iowa Department of Natural Resources predicts the leaves will be at their peak in the region this weekend.
“I think we’re on the right track for that. The leaves are starting to change very, very fast,” she said. “I think the leaves will probably start falling in the next two weeks.”
Mike Gillispie, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said Sioux City is in the period when the first freezes and freezes of the season occur. He said that’s usually when trees start shedding their leaves.
People also read…
“As far as temperature goes. We’re probably pretty close to peaking right now,” he said. “One thing that could impact things is the drought. Obviously we’ve had a couple of very dry years there.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of western Woodbury County, all of Plymouth County, a significant portion of Cherokee County, and parts of Monona, O’Brien, Sioux, Clay, and Buena Vista counties are in a state of extreme drought.
Parts of northeast Nebraska are even worse, with all of Wayne County currently rated exceptionally dry, the worst drought rating. Significant parts of Thurston, Dakota, Dixon and Cedar County are also suffering from exceptional drought. Conditions are similar to Union, Clay and Yankton County, South Dakota.
Severe drought stresses trees and causes their leaves to change color a little earlier. According to Gillispie, some trees might not be as bright.
“You’re not going to get as many colors or as vibrant colors on a lot of the trees, because of the lack of moisture,” he said. “We don’t really see the maple trees changing. I would imagine these will probably be more affected by a lack of color with the drought, than say the poplars which just turn yellow-brown and fall off.”
Just across the border in South Dakota, Jody Moats said green ash and acacia trees at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve are turning yellow, while some maple trees are just beginning to show a tint of red. .
“Certainly, our poison ivy we have here is probably the most beautiful it’s ever been; and it’s this bright red,” said Moats, the nature reserve’s park manager. “It’s not just the trees that are really beautiful right now. We have a lot of native grass here, like big bluestem and Indian grass. They’re also showing really cool colors. not be the bright reds and oranges and yellows, but they just look great.”
After a relatively cold Friday night and Saturday morning, Gillispie said temperatures are expected to warm up through the middle of the week. Over the next 10 to 12 days, he said Sioux City would approach standard time when the first hard freeze hits.
“The next week and a half to two weeks will probably be your best chance to see any foliage start to really change color,” he said.
Kestrel Point, which is east of the nature center, and Mt. Lucia, the highest point in Stone State Park, are ideal places to view the leaves, according to Sandage. But, she said she has yet to notice an increase in the number of visitors passing through the park.
“I think maybe people aren’t used to the fall foliage starting so early,” she said. “I think they might be a little shocked that it’s happening so soon. If you really want to see the fall foliage, it’s best to do it this weekend or next weekend.”