Fall Foliage Fails
However, this fall she admitted, "They're just not as vibrant."
And, Chris Starbuck, who works for the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, warned that this year's drought could dull next fall's colors, too.
"We may see some damage to trees and shrubs for years to come because they've suffered severe stress," he said. "And I don't normally like to see leaves curled up and hanging on the tree like this. I would prefer to see that they fell off."
But, Starbuck said, the drought hasn't killed this fall's colors entirely.
"One thing you'll find is, there's a lot of variability in the coloration of oaks, both between species and within a species," he explained. "This is a white oak right here. And you can see that this is one of the best fall colors I've seen this fall. I'd say, on a scale of 1-10, I would give it [the season] maybe a five."
But for leaf peepers like Rupert, that rating means the season's only half-full.
"Shoot, I could just reach out and touch it," she said. "Beautiful, very beautiful."
Starbuck said areas with peak fall colors now include the Katy Trail between McBaine and Rocheport.