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COLUMBIA - With the autumn season starting Friday, the Missouri Department of Conservation has begun its weekly online fall color updates

Many questioned how mid-Missouri's late summer drought would affect the coloration of tree leaves moving into the fall. 

MU forestry professor Hank Stelzer said people overreacted the last time a major drought lead into the the season. 

"Think back to 2012 when we had a severe drought. People were saying, 'Oh wow, the coloration is just not going to be there.' And that ended up being one of the most vibrant seasons we've had in 20 years," Stelzer said. 

The professor said heat affects leaves far more than moisture.  

Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Amy Schneider said fall foliage is a major point of interest for mid-Missouri tourists. 

"We get tons of calls every fall, people asking what the colors are like on the leaves. We have so many roads and trails that are perfect for taking in the many colors of fall and people want to take advantage of that," Schneider said. 

Tree leaves will start their color changes in northern Missouri first, with the transition moving south throughout October. The Department of Conservation estimated mid-October to be the peak of autumn color in the state.