Dan's Outside

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Better prospects for a good wildflower year?

After several years of below-normal rainfall, it is great to find myself living through a week of solid rain with more on the way! (It is interesting to watch the “typical” El Niño pattern play out – tons of rain heading toward central and southern California.) While it is too soon to know how the season will ultimately play out, for the first time in a few years we are currently ahead of normal for rainfall in the lowlands and for snowfall in the Sierra.

One question that outdoor folks are wondering about is: “Will this be a big wildflower year?”

  • It was after similar heavy rains a few years back that the deserts – especially Death Valley – experienced an unusually spectacular wildflower bloom, and desert plants are uniquely adapted to take advantage of rare wet periods by reproducing like crazy! I’ve heard some early speculation that this could be another big year for desert wildflowers if this keeps up. On the other hand, at least one report suggested that the rain might have arrived a bit late.
  • I’m pretty certain that this will be a good year for coastal and lowland wildflowers – I’m betting on it! This flora generally got an early start with heavy rains back in October, and while it hasn’t rained a lot between then and now it hasn’t been totally dry either.
  • I’m also hopeful that a good Sierra snowpack may enhance the bloom and perhaps extend it a bit later in the season. During the previous major El Niño event in the 1990s, I recall still coming across high elevation wildflowers and green plants well into September!

    January 22, 2010 - Posted by | Commentary

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