California superbloom emerges in stunning color following extremely wet winter
For the first time since 2019, some of California’s rolling hillsides are bursting with dazzling colors as a vibrant superbloom of wildflowers, the product of an extremely wet winter, continues to unfold.
Visitors walk along paths in Chino Hills, where California poppies and other flowers are in bloom on April 8, 2023. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
California’s winter featured torrential rainfall from beginning to end, helping to fill the state’s reservoirs and putting a major dent into the state's long-term drought conditions. The transition to spring has brought another positive effect to the Golden State, as a superbloom of wildflowers has residents and tourists alike rushing to get a glimpse of the gorgeous natural display.
A rare botanical occurrence, a superbloom, occurs when mass amounts of dormant seeds sprout at once following several drier years. The 2023 superbloom in the state has already drawn thousands of visitors, even in remote locations such as Cuyama, California. The remote agricultural region of Santa Barbara County has been experiencing a superbloom since late March, sprouting wildflowers like goldfield, tidy tips, fireweed and lupine.
The state flower of California, the California poppy, has also been blooming in April, enticing tourists to visit places such as Chino Hills State Park in the Los Angeles metro area.
A rare superbloom is creating a blanket of colors in areas across California. The poppies are popping, and folks near and far are flocking to the poppy reserve in Lancaster.
During the winter, the California Department of Parks and Recreation noted that the department was “cautiously optimistic” in expecting a “good” to “better-than-average” wildflower bloom during the spring season. “The unique combination of sun, rain, temperature and wind defines the stage for the later winter and early springtime arrival of desert wildflowers,” the department’s website stated.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Scott Homan added that achieving a superbloom season requires “good rainfall throughout the winter and spring, warm weather, and a limited number of wind events.” Rainfall came in bunches due to atmospheric rivers, with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography stating that through March 28, 31 atmospheric river events hit California during the 2022-2023 water year.
Maxar Technologies released a series of satellite photos showing the wildflower superbloom taking place in California in the early spring.
The last wildflower superbloom occurred in the early spring of 2019, causing an astonishing rush of tourists and vehicles in some areas. In the city of Lake Elsinore, visitors wanting to catch a view of the superbloom overwhelmed local officials, according to CBS News. Nearby roads, along with Interstate 15, were slammed with tourist traffic and people looking for parking. One of the most heavily trafficked areas that year, the trail in Walker Canyon, has been closed for 2023, according to city officials.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said that parking violations would not be tolerated and that the “misdemeanor infraction” means offenders are “subject to arrest and booking into jail.”
“Back in 2019, numerous safety incidents occurred on the trail and on our roadways,” Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson added in a February press conference. “Tens of thousands of people, as many as 100,000 in a weekend — Disneyland-sized crowds — seeking to experience nature trampled the very habitat that they placed so high in regard and sought to enjoy.”
The California Department of Parks and Recreation compiled a list of locations where visitors can see vivid displays of wildflowers in the region. California State Parks Director Armando Quintero urged those hoping to see the flowers in person not to "doom the bloom" in an advisory, according to CBS News. Officials are asking visitors to stay on trails and avoid picking flowers in order to safely and responsibly enjoy the superbloom.
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