Wet Winter Brings Spring Treat to California Deserts

Wildflowers are back, along with tourists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2017 7:34 AM CDT
From California's Desert Sands, Flowers Bloom
Visitors walk among the poppies at Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, Calif.   (Richard Vogel)

Rain-fed wildflowers have been sprouting from California's desert sands after lying dormant for years—producing a spectacular display that has drawn record crowds and traffic jams to tiny towns like Borrego Springs. An estimated 150,000 people in the past month have converged on the town of about 3,500, roughly 85 miles northeast of San Diego, for the so-called super bloom, per the AP. Wildflowers are springing up in different landscapes across the state and the western United States thanks to a wet winter. In the Antelope Valley, for example, an arid plateau northeast of Los Angeles, blazing orange poppies are lighting up the ground.

But a "super bloom" is a term for when a mass amount of desert plants bloom at one time. In California, that happens about once in a decade in a given area. So far this year, the natural show has been concentrated in the 1,000-square-mile Anza Borrego State Park that abuts Borrego Springs; tour groups from as far as Japan and Hong Kong have flown in to catch the display before it fades away with the rising temperatures. On one particularly packed weekend in March, motorists were stuck in traffic for five hours, restaurants ran out of food, and some visitors relieved themselves in the fields. Officials have since set up an army of Port-A-Pottys, and eateries have stocked up. The craze, dubbed "Flowergeddon," is expected to roll along through May, with different species blooming at different elevations and in different areas of the park. (More desert stories.)

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