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Will there be another superbloom?

purple mat death valley by Robb Hannawacker
Purple Mat in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.
Excitement about the spectacular 2016 superbloom hasn’t faded — everybody wants more! More flowers!

A “superbloom” in Death Valley is a rare occurrence which only happens when conditions are just perfect for millions of wildflowers to bloom. The 2016 bloom, declared the best in a decade, brought a huge swell of park visitors in to see colors overwhelm what many people view as a rather muted landscape.

By this time last year, the bulk of the superbloom boom had already fizzled. People aren’t quite sure if Death Valley will put on another such show this year, but flowers ARE in bloom in Death Valley! By mid-April we will have seen most the flowers bloom at lower elevations; after that, the show moves higher up the mountain sides.

Will there be another “superbloom” this year? Let’s look at the conditions and those flowers’ requirements:

According to the Death Valley National Park website, a superbloom requires at least three factors:

  • Well-spaced rainfall throughout the winter and spring
  • Sufficient warmth from the sun
  • Lack of drying winds
Caltha Leaf Phacelia
Caltha Leaf Phacelia in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.

Well-spaced rainfall

“The best blooms are triggered by an early, winter-type rainstorm in September or October, followed by an El Niño weather pattern that brings above average rainfall to the Desert Southwest.”

Sufficient warmth

“Wildflower seeds that sprout with cool winter storms often remain small and low to the ground until the springtime sun starts to warm the soil.”

Lack of drying winds

“Frequent springtime windstorms without additional rain can bring about a quick end to the spring bloom or even prevent it from happening by killing off delicate sprouts. Dry, moving air dehydrates exposed surfaces of all living things…”

What do you think? Were conditions right this year? One great way to find out is to go visit the park and find out for yourself! Bring plenty of water and a camera!

turtle back death valley by robb hannawacker
Turtle Back in Death Vally. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.
According to Death Valley National Park update on February 27, 2017:

“The past couple weeks have been exciting and wet in Death Valley National Park. Water has the power to damage roads as well as create wildflower blooms. With nearly half of our yearly rainfall (0.95” in the past two weeks), many visitors and pollinators have their eyes trained on the ground in search of wildflowers. Behind the Furnace Creek Visitor Center plants like this Globemallow have just begun to bloom.

If you are planning to visit the park in search of flowers, we recommend taking a stroll behind the Visitor Center or making the trip to the southern regain of the park near Saratoga Springs where several species have already begun their bloom. Many other areas of the park should start blooming in the coming weeks.”

To find out more, please visit the Death Valley National Park Facebook Page.

Also, there are some great flower reports to be had at the DesertUSA website.

death valley gold - robb hannawacker
Desert Gold flowers in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.