Wildflower Super Bloom Out West

March 22, 2017
Wildflower Super Bloom Out West

The early super bloom in Death Valley.

National Park Service

What a magical sight! Dry, barren deserts are blooming with millions of flowers, drowning the land with lush colors. Other climates have the luxury of flowers blooming throughout the year. In western deserts, this is all concentrated in a few enchanted weeks.

The reason, of course, is water. It requires perfect conditions for flowers to bloom. (Ask any frustrated gardener.) There has to be enough water to nourish the plant and warm enough weather for the plant and bloom not to freeze. Later in the year, the heat will intensify, the soil will dry out and the plant will switch to water conservation mode. 

Carrizo Plain National Monument Source: Recreation.gov (Sarah Chah, Share the Experience)

In the Western US, winter is the rainy season. The best time for the blooms to survive is during the few short weeks when the soil is still moist from the rains and springtime is warming the soil.

The heavy rains this winter have saturated the deserts, especially in California. Late winter, the crucial time, saw as much as 7 inches of precipitation. As a result, they are experiencing a super bloom, the heaviest explosion of flowers in 12 years. In Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs, California reported it is the best flowering season since 1999. 

California and the West had heavy rainfall this winter. Er … sorry about the dry weather in the South.

The ‘super bloom’ at California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is convenient to San Diego and officials are advising people to see a rare treat. I can testify to the wonder. Back when I was in college and hippies and dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was on a geology field trip. After a weekend of digging rocks out of the barren earth, our wise professor ended the trip by directing our bus to a hidden valley. It was awash with flowers including a carpet of golden poppies. For one brief hour, we could walk in the wonder. The vegetation was so thick, I could take off my heavy boots and wallow in being a flower child.

The flowers are waiting Source: NPS.gov

If you get a chance, visit a desert in spring. You don’t get to experience many miracles and the flowers are just waiting for you.


About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.