Wet Winter Rewards California with Superbloom So Big, It Can Be Seen From Space

In a rare phenomenon, California’s hills are alive with technicolor wildflower blooms

Spring is here—but a lot more so for many Californians, it seems, who are enjoying a dizzying, nearly psychedelic “superbloom” that has seen its hills explode with hyper-saturated wildflowers that are brighter than a Van Gogh painting and is viewable from space.

Satellite images from Maxar Technologies show that California’s superbloom is so expansive that this year it can be seen from space. NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite, launched in 2021 to grab images of the surface of the Earth, sent back images of bright purple and green blooms in Carrizo Plain National Park.

(image:Maxar Technologies)
(image: Maxar Technologies)

The previous superbloom was in 2019. This year’s massive was caused by a memorably wet winter. Superblooms are unusual and happen when a multitude of dormant seeds sprout all at once after several years of dry weather.

UCD Plant Sciences Professor Jennifer Funk of Uc Davis explains that the annual wildflowers seen now make it just 12 months, do not germinate in these dry years and will remain dormant in the soil until conditions are right. When all of these dry years happen in a row, wildflower seeds accumulate.

Check out the surreal images below and experience the superbloom in person this weekend.

A woman holds on while ziplining over a superbloom of wildflowers at Skull Canyon Ziplines in Corona, California on April 11, 2023. – People are flocking to state parks for a glimpse of a spectacular superbloom following a historically wet winter. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
The hills look as if they were dusted with pollen. SANTA MARGARITA, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 13: An aerial view of wildflowers blooming near Carrizo Plain National Monument following an unusually wet winter on April 13, 2023 near Santa Margarita, California. Historic levels of rainfall fell in some parts of California, amid a barrage of atmospheric river winter storms, which has led to a ‘superbloom’ of wildflowers in certain parts of the state this spring. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Chino Hills, California—April 8, 2023—Visitors walk along paths in Chino Hills State Park, where California poppies and other flowers are in bloom on April 8, 2023. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

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