Wildflowers, dormant for years, bloom across California

BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Rain-fed wildflowers have been sprouting from California’s desert sands after lying dormant for years — producing a spectacular display that has drawn record crowds and traffic jams to tiny towns like Borrego Springs.

An estimated 150,000 people in the past month have converged on this town of about 3,500, roughly 85 miles (135 kilometers) northeast of San Diego, for the so-called super bloom.

Wildflowers are springing up in different landscapes across the state and the western United States thanks to a wet winter. In the Antelope Valley, an arid plateau northeast of Los Angeles, blazing orange poppies are lighting up the ground.

But a “super bloom” is a term for when a mass amount of desert plants bloom at one time. In California, that happens about once in a decade in a given area. It has been occurring less frequently with the drought. Last year, the right amount of rainfall and warm temperatures produced carpets of flowers in Death Valley.

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So far this year, the natural show has been concentrated in the 640,000-acre (1,000-square-mile) Anza Borrego State Park that abuts Borrego Springs.

It is expected to roll along through May, with different species blooming at different elevations and in different areas of the park. Anza Borrego is California’s largest state park with hundreds of species of plants, including desert lilies, blazing stars and the flaming tall, spiny Ocotillo.

Deputies were brought in to handle the traffic jams as Borrego Springs saw its population triple in a single day.

On one particularly packed weekend in mid-March, motorists were stuck in traffic for five hours, restaurants ran out of food, and some visitors relieved themselves in the fields. Officials have since set up an army of Port-A-Pottys, and eateries have stocked up. The craze has been dubbed “Flowergeddon.”

Locals call those who view…

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