DEATH VALLEY, Calif. — Despite those flash floods and record rainfall last summer, a superbloom is not expected in Death Valley National Park. That summer rain doesn’t necessarily translate to a once-in-decade event.
“Rain on Tuesday does not always yield flowers on Thursday,” Death Valley National Park superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a news release Friday. “But rain in August may be too early to sprout flowers in March.”
A superbloom, a rare desert botanical phenomenon in California that produces an unusually high number of wildflowers, is associated with an unusually wet rainy season. But Reynolds says the crazy rains of August might have come to early to create the rare spring blossom.
Fall rain seemed to be a key ingredient in the last three superblooms — displays in 1998, 2005, and 2016. Each was preceded by fall rain (1.6 inches in 1998, 2.7 in 2005 and 1.3 in 2016). Death Valley received about 0.3 inches of rain last fall.
“Death Valley is beautiful, with or without a carpet of flowers,” Reynolds said. “This spring we are predicting an average flower bloom.”
The flowers will start to appear in low elevations between late February and early April. Higher elevations will bloom through June.
The park received record rainfall during last summer’s monsoon season. Aug. 5 was the rainiest day recorded at the Furnace Creek weather station: 1.70 inches. For context, the park averages 2.20 inches of rain annually.
Reynolds is encouraging visitors to come out to see the “average” bloom. “The canyons, sand dunes and night skies here are amazing,” he said Reynolds. “And spring is an ideal time to visit Death Valley.”