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California deserts are enjoying a ¨Super Bloom¨ this Spring thanks to a wet winter followed by mild temperatures. February and March are the ideal months to visit parks like Anza-Borrego, where one can enjoy a espectacular wildflower scenery.

'Super Bloom' blankets California: Stunning photos here

Dr. Mario Picazo
Meteorologist, PhD

Monday, March 27, 2017, 3:04 PM - The perfect combination of winter rains and spring temperatures have transformed many areas of the California desert into a gigantic blanket of flowers. Dry dusty weather had been the norm during the past few years, but this season environmental conditions have been ideal for this large colourful display to extend across normally barren land.

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Despite the generous rain and the mild temperatures, you don't always get such a spectacular bloom of desert wildflowers. A unique combination of water, sun, wind and temperature marked by elevation will set the stage for the best springtime blooms. 

If the rain is scarce, seed germination can be limited, and if it is excessive the seeds not only rot, they can be washed away. The ideal scenario is one in which rain comes in small doses during the winter months and that has been this case between last December and March.

Temperature conditions are also critical for flowers to appear. Warm days favour the bloom, but if temperatures begin to soar above 30oC (85oF) in late winter and early spring, the seeds can become parched and scorched. 

On the other side of the temperature scale, cool nights can help flower growth by slowing down the growth of competitors like grasses and mustards. However, very cold nighttime temperatures are definitely bad news for wildflowers.

Every year, and especially if conditions are favorable, thousands of visitors from all over the world travel to the various flower bloom desert areas in California. Joshua Tree, Mojave, Death Valley or Anza-Borrego are some of the most frequented, but among those, Anza-Borrego is on the top of many wildflower watchers list.

With 242,800 hectares, Anza-Borrego state park is the largest state park in California and the second largest in the US. Located within the Colorado Desert, you can literally get lost along the 800 kilometres of dirt roads or the 180 kilometres of hiking trails.

The park name comes from the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, and from the fact that there is a large population of bighorn sheep called Borrego's in Spanish.

Some of the seeds in this and other desert areas of the region have been underground maybe for decades, or in some cases even a century. 

Rain is not common in the Southern California desert and some places have not seen a drop of water in 10 to 20 years. That's why it's so incredible to see the large extensions covered with a colourful blanket of flowers, the largest in the past 12 years, locals say.

Carpets of purple verbenas, desert dandelions, Brown-eyed Primroses, desert sunflowers, and Evening Primroses are just a few of the flowers you can find these days.

If you plan to visit the California desert and want to know where and when flowers will bloom, the answer is never clear since each year it can be different in variety, extension and timing. The best time to visit the Southern California Desert is usually form late February when temperatures become milder through March and some years early April before the heat in on. You can always check online with the state and national parks or the information available in the DesertUSA link where flower bloom is updated on a continuous basis.

WATCH BELOW: Drone video captures view of California's wildflower super bloom

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