Super Bloom Status Report
Last updated 1/28/2020 at 10:32am
With the New Year and what seems to be a lot of rain so far this season, hopes for another Super Bloom are high. Wildflower explosions are nothing short of spectacular here in the desert, and we want to share the experience with as many outsiders as possible, logistical issues notwithstanding.
So where do we stand in comparison to the Super Bloom of 2017?
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park rain gauge data tells some of the story. From Sept. through Dec. in both 2016 and 2019, we had 2.8-inches and 3.3-inches of rain, respectively, an increase of half an inch this year over last. We received 1.5-inches this recent Nov., whereas in Nov. 2016 we had no rain whatsoever.
But the comparison stops there simply because the data stops on Dec. 31, 2019. Rains coming, or not coming in Jan., Feb., and even March 2020 are what will make or break Super Bloom conditions.
In Jan. and Feb. 2017, 4.5 inches fell at the Park's rain gauge. 2.5-inches were fortunately spread out over 11 days in mid-Jan., but in Feb. we saw 0.4 inches fall on the 17th, and then nothing until the skies opened up and dropped almost 1.5 inches on Feb. 27.
It didn't rain a drop in March 2017 when the Super Bloom took place, and there were no overnight freeze events or high wind conditions, either. And with temperatures mild, all conditions were ideal in the lead-up to our wildflower explosion that year, bringing tourists from far and wide to enjoy the visual splendor.
We now turn to the regional long-term weather forecast from the folks at Farmers Almanac 2020. This information covers a broad range of Southern California acreage, and is fairly general in nature. Nonetheless, it might give a clue as to what possibilities are in store for the crucial Jan. and Feb. rainfall forecast; a possible interloper could ruin everything if too much rain falls and temperatures drop precipitously leading up to and during a Super Bloom.
The folks at Farmers Almanac show lower temps and rainfall than normal in Jan. 2020, and a mix of higher rainfall and lower temps than normal in Feb. Most importantly, they're showing a rather significant two-inch rainfall increase and 3-degrees below normal temperature decrease in March. Remember, we had 0.0-inches of rain in March 2017 and temperatures were mild.
Once again, this is a "regional" forecast, so our local desert conditions may or may not be predictable to a high degree of certainty in the lead-up to a Super Bloom. But it's something to keep in mind.
Regardless of what happens in Jan. and Feb., we'll have to wait out the Ides of March to see if our next Super Bloom is spectacular, or else gets rained- or frozen out.