SuperBloom Beauty Follows Wild West Winter

In late 2022, California endured one of its worst droughts in the state’s history. Multiple counties throughout central and southern California experienced Extreme and Exceptional Drought conditions due to a lack of precipitation and record high temperatures. Many locals were forced to scale back on their drinkable water usage as lakes, streams, and other reservoirs started to dry up or cease to exist. 

However, around the start of the new year, California became bombarded with copious amounts of rain and snow. In January and February alone, almost half of the state has received 200% above their annual precipitation to date. Portions of the state started to become more fertile for agriculture and other plant life and yellow landscapes turned to lush green.

Data from the latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly 64% of California is officially out of the drought and the state's snowpack is now an impressive 215% of the peak April 1 average.

This recent change in the weather has sparked the conversation of a possible “Super Bloom” of desert wildflowers. 

This type of bloom is not an unknown occurrence, but because of California’s extreme drought conditions over the past couple of years, the state has not seen one in a little over 4 years. Because of this year's abundant precipitation, the phrase “Super Bloom” is coming back into the mainstream. A super bloom is a rare desert botanical phenomenon where an unusually high proportion of wildflowers whose seeds have lain dormant in desert soil germinate and blossom at roughly the same time. Some national parks anticipate large blooms of native California species throughout March and often last through April and May. 

Young girl stands in field of prolific blooming California poppies in the Sonoran desert. Image: Jack Prichett
Source: San Diego Editor

Super blooms mainly occur in protected pockets of the Southwestern desert in California, Arizona and Nevada and parts of Texas. Although no one can say if Spring 2023 will be a super bloom year, experts are predicting that it will be a well-above average bloom season.

Where could you see this “Super Bloom”?:

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve 
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Walker Canyon, Lake Elsinore
  • Carrizo Plain National Monument
  • Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
  • Point Dume State Beach

Many of these parks are worried about an abundance of visitors that could potentially cause traffic concerns and damage to the flowers or other parts of the park. California’s National Park Services urge visitors to respect each park’s rules and regulations as violators will be fined.

Once March comes to a close, the “rainy season” for California will slowly cease. Many areas of the state will most likely become dry once again and the wildflowers will not be able to withstand the lack of moisture and the hot temperatures of California’s spring and summer. Once these flowers die, their remains become potential fuel for wildfires. If a campfire were to be left burning, if lightning were to strike, or something as simple as a match sparking on some brush, a wildfire could erupt in the surrounding area. These dead flowers could become a power source that wildfires need to cover ground and destroy acerage. So while these wildflowers could sprout a nationwide media frenzy, they could also contribute to a possible destructive fire season.

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