Historic California Rain Could Bring One of the Best Superblooms for Years

The historic rainfall hitting California in recent months could bring a particularly vibrant superbloom in the Spring—the first one to occur in the state since 2019.

"Superblooms" in California happen when conditions are just right—when the state, which is in the grips of an ongoing drought, receives a rare influx of rainfall, paired with the right amount of sunshine.

When this happens, native wildflowers, that lay dormant in the soil, all bloom at once. This creates a phenomenon where carpets of brightly colored flowers spread across the state, often in the deserts.

Botanist Nick Jensen, Conservation Program director for the California Native Plant Society, told Newsweek: "Every time we see a superbloom, it is a gift because of the number of conditions that must perfectly align. Some of those we understand, some remain part of nature's beautiful mysteries."

A stock photo shows the superbloom in California in Walker Canyon Sundry Photography/Getty

The last California superbloom occurred in 2019, and was the most beautiful the state has seen in recent years. This followed a particularly wet season from November to March.

In late 2022 and early 2023, California has seen heavy rainfall sweeping across the state. The storms brought one of the wettest seasons the state has ever seen.

The rain caused widespread flooding and destruction to some areas. But it could also set the stage for a stunning superbloom come Spring.

Jensen said that this year, the superbloom could be "really spectacular" in some places.

"There's been enough rain spread out this winter, that's it's reasonable to predict there is going to be awe and wonder," Jensen said.

However, there are multiple factors that play into how vibrant a superbloom will be. And they are hard to predict.

"There's not a linear relationship between overall precipitation amounts and super blooms," Jensen said.

"They really depend on a number of factors, and overall precipitation is only one of those factors. Scientists are still trying to understand what makes some years greater than others. Conclusions are that it involves the amount of precipitation, timing of precipitation, and the interaction between precipitation and temperature," he added.

For a superbloom to be spectacular, rainfall has to occur during a time that allows the plants to germinate at the right period.

The plants that are typically seen during a superbloom all have varying germination time, ranging from 60 to 100 days, Jensen said.

"So if all of the rain happened in October, you wouldn't be seeing super blooms in March and April. Essentially, timing of precipitation drives what composition of the show looks like," he said.

Rainfall is also needed on the run up to when the plants bloom.

"In the end, a super bloom isn't something to take for granted. Huge swaths of California were once blanketed in blooms, but today, much of our wildflower habitat has been lost to development and other threats. We must protect what's left so future generations can enjoy these natural wonders too," Jensen said.

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