By Ashton Altieri

DENVER (CBS4) – More than 70 percent of Colorado is experiencing some stage of drought. And for nearly all mountain areas along and south of I-70, the intensity of the drought is either extreme or exceptional which are the two worst drought categories.

fall colors Drought Brings Colorado Color Earlier Than Usual

Jennifer Brown-Rogowski, took this photo on Thursday in her backyard in the Twin Lakes community near Leadville.

The presence of such significant drought this year is altering the usually very predictable schedule for the fall colors.

PHOTO GALLERY: Colorado Fall Colors 2018

The Aspen trees responsible for much of the brilliant color that erupts in Colorado in the late summer become stressed during periods of drought. The stress causes the color to come early and in some cases end quickly because drought-stressed trees tend to lose their leaves faster than usual.fall colors Drought Brings Colorado Color Earlier Than Usual

So what does all of this mean for seeing the color in Colorado in this year? It means the “peak” viewing will occur about a week earlier than usual in most areas. Of course there can be variability, but in general, the middle of September (including the weekends of Sept 8-9, Sept 15-16, and Sept 22-23) is the best time to view the stunning leaves in the Colorado mountains.

Ashton Altieri is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist. Watch him on the CBS4 Morning News weekdays from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. Connect with Ashton on Facebook and on Twitter @AshtonCBS4.

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