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Why Are The Leaves Changing Colors So Early In The Twin Cities?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Summer is not officially over just yet, but leaves are starting to change colors -- and the change is starting somewhere you might not expect.

This year's Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Fall Color Finder shows the leaves are beginning to turn in the Twin Cities metro area, and nowhere else.

A sure sign that winter is coming hung above Rachel Osband and her two sons in Eden Prairie.

"We used to always do apple picking in October, and now I feel like by October everything's almost done," Osband said. "It just feels like everything is shifting forward a little bit."

Minnesotans have the wet spring and summer to blame for teeing up the early presentation of the leaves. National Weather Service Meteorologist Brent Hewett says a recent drop in both temperature and rainfall is helping push the leaves from green to red, orange and yellow earlier.

Early Fall Colors
(credit: CBS)

"When you have a lot of precipitation, the trees will stay green longer, and that will set us up for fall colors," Hewett said.

The driving factor behind the leaf change is really the loss of sunlight.

"The days are getting shorter around here. We've lost about 12 minutes just from the first of the month," Hewett said.

He also has a theory as to why the Twin Cities is seeing colors while the rest of the state remains green.

"Since we do have that heat island during the summer, we are four- to five-degrees warmer than the areas surrounding us," Hewett said. "Those cooler nights that we switched to in about two weeks ago could have had a better impact on the plants causing them to prematurely change."

A cold snap where it dips below freezing would put an end to the show, so get out and enjoy the view while you can.

The average peak time for color peeping in the Twin Cities is during the first part of October.

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