2013 Wildflower Season: Poppy Reserve, Other Desert Spots Hang In Balance

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in 2010. Maybe this year too, maybe not. | Photo: Chris Wegg/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Unless the California desert gets a bit more rains in March, 2013's spring desert bloom may be a disappointing one.

According to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve earlier this week, so little rain has fallen so far this winter that the Reserve's usual carpet of annual wildflowers "hasn't even sprouted yet." Without significant March rain, the four-fifths of an inch the Reserve has received since October just won't be enough to spur the awe-inspiring fields of California poppies, along with goldfields and owls' clover, lupines and other stunning annuals, that attract thousands of visitors a day in season.

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It's not much wetter elsewhere in the desert. A dramatic storm swept across the desert January 25, and dumped almost an inch of rain in the extreme southeastern deserts. Most places in the Mojave got only a tenth of an inch or so from that storm.

There's still time: All of March and most of February remain in the usual wet season in the desert, and even one good soaking can make the difference. And there will always be patches of desert where conditions conspire to bring a nice bloom out in a small area. But most of the desert will just have to keep its fingers crossed at this point. Send rain!

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