Another California Super Bloom Is Possible Again This Spring, Say Experts
It's still a little too early to know if there'll be as many flowers as last year's display.
Last year, thousands of people headed to the hills of Southern California to see fields and canyons filled with wildflowers (so many people flocked to Lake Elsinore that the town had to shut down access to the canyon with the flowers). Naturally, everyone's wondering if 2020 will bring the same flood of blooms. It's a little too early to know for sure if you should start planning a trip to California to see the thousands of flowers, but some of the weather conditions have lined up in favor of a super bloom, which is when the growth of wildflowers exceeds a normal flowering threshold. The crucial factor for a super bloom is rain in the cooler months leading up to spring, and right now, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting several rainy periods for the month of February.
The Almanac for 2020 predicts the Pacific Southwest (including Southern California) will get some rain from February 12-19, mild showers from February 20-24, and potentially heavy rain from February 25-29. It also predicts cool temperatures lasting into March, which, paired with even more rain, could trigger another super bloom.
“We have received cold weather as expected for a possible super bloom or whatever you want to call it,” said Chris Hon, a senior environmental scientist at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “If we have sustained rains to keep the poppies growing, we will likely have some type of super bloom.”
Right now, it's still too early to know for sure if there'll be another super bloom this year, and California really needs more rain to make it happen. However, several signs of wildflowers have already been spotted around the state: Hon also mentioned to the Los Angeles Times that he's already seen a few sprouts poking through the ground at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Even if it doesn't quite reach super bloom levels, California should still have plenty of wildflowers to enjoy.
In 2019, a trip to Southern California was a must to see the hills filled with poppies. Super blooms usually only happen every 10 to 15 years, but it seems this phenomenon might be getting more common, as the previous California super bloom happened just three years earlier in 2017. When they do happen, they're gone quick—usually, super blooms only last for a few weeks or a month, because once the rain dries up, so do the flowers.
Scientists attributed 2019's super bloom to uncharacteristic rain seen in the winter months (which also affected Texas' wildflower bloom). In October 2018, Palm Springs had accumulated 7.21 inches of rain, which is more than double what the area sees in an average year. The damage from the California wildfires in 2018 may have also played a part in the bloom in spring 2019—the heat and smoke can help prime the soil and assist in seed germination. This is why you may see farmers occasionally burn sections of their land before the next growing season.
Last year, Lake Elsinore was the go-to spot to experience fields of orange, but more sections of wildflowers were seen in Coachella Valley Preserve, Morongo Valley Preserve, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Peaks in bloom only increase as elevation does, so visitors should be prepared to do some hiking to get the best glimpse of action.
If you're interested in experiencing the wildflower blooms with your own eyes, check out Desert USA's wildflower forecast for this season.