‘It’s like a painting': Superbloom transforms desert dunes in Saudi Arabia
Portions of Saudi Arabia received upwards of 700% of the historical average of rain this winter, which transformed a typically barren, dry landscape into one that people have traveled more than 12 hours to witness.
A desert bloom triggered by heavier-than-usual winter rain has carpeted the sand dunes of northern Saudi Arabia in purple flowers.
Unusually heavy rain unleashed deadly flooding in western parts of Saudi Arabia this winter, and the above-average rainfall has brought new life to northern areas. The typically barren and dry landscapes of northern Saudi Arabia have been transformed with hues of purples and greens as a floral bloom gets underway. Sightseers from near and far have traveled to experience a beauty not often found in the desert.
Abdul Rahman al-Marri traveled more than 12 hours from his home in Qatar to view the spectacle.
"It is worth the journey," Marri told AFP in an interview. "It's magical. Beautiful scenery makes you feel you're in paradise. It's like a painting."
A group of friends traveled nearly six hours to see and enjoy the flowers, saying the "smell and sight refreshes the soul."
"As you can see, the area here is covered in lavender. This is our camp, where we were joined by friends from Al Qassim and Riyadh. They all want to enjoy spring here," Muhammad al-Mutairi, a retired teacher, told AFP. "The beautiful scenery here fills you with energy."
Much like a superbloom in California, where the typically dry, barren landscape is transformed with colorful wildflowers after a wet winter, Saudi Arabia's floral bloom was fueled by the ample winter rainfall.
"There has been widespread rainfall of 2 to 5 inches over northern Saudi Arabia," AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
Nicholls added that this region measured upwards of 700% of the historical average this winter alone.
However, the sightseers must make the trip before the flowers wilt and disappear. That's precisely what Nasser al-Karaani, a 55-year-old businessman from the capital of Riyadh, did. After traveling more than 480 miles from home, he was able to take in the view with his friends before it was gone.
"This scene lasts from 15 to 20 days a year, and we come here specifically to enjoy it," Karaani told AFP in an interview. "This atmosphere makes me feel at ease."
Visitors have been greeted with mild weather. High temperatures have stayed in the upper 50s to mid-60s for the past week in Rafha, a town near the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. Overnight temperatures have been slightly cooler than the historical average of 43 degrees F. Temperatures dropped as low as 34 degrees overnight the last few days.
People who traveled to the area pitched tents, cooked food and enjoyed the vibrant blossom. Residents have been keeping camels away from the site to keep the flowers around a bit longer.
According to AccuWeather forecasters, weather conditions will remain ideal for visitors. Temperatures will be mild during the day, reaching no higher than the mid-70s. Overnight temperatures are forecast to warm as well, only dropping to the upper 40s throughout next week.
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