For a straight 376 weeks, California, already well known for its infamous wildfires, has been experiencing drought. Inhabitants have had to restrict their use of water as the drought had wrecked the state’s irrigation systems and a lot of farming land had dried up. The wildfires also worsened due to the dry conditions in the state.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, though the weather was slightly better in 2017, the state was still undergoing a moderate form of drought. Even though a part of the state persists in remaining extraordinarily dry, the state experienced rainfall this winter which made the situation better.
#DroughtMonitor declares #California drought-free — only a tiny 6% remaining "abnormally dry" — as precipitation and snowpack totals surge far above year-total averages long before typical year-end measures. via @SacBee https://t.co/YMbThxSIGp pic.twitter.com/rbu44JBtC4— CalWA (@CAWaterAlliance) March 15, 2019
Data from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska University say that this is the first time since the 20th of December, 2011. Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist working with the National Centers for Environmental Information, pointed out that the storms in early 2019 were essential in rejuvenating the snowpacks and the reservoirs. Since temperatures remained low for a longer period, the snow didn’t melt as quickly.
"It’s been a great winter for the West.” The California drought is officially over after more than seven years. https://t.co/ruF84zK4uW— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) March 15, 2019
According to meteorology, winter began on the 1st of December 2018 and it ended in the last week of February. This winter, the USA saw the most rain ever since 1895 with the national average being 9.01 inches. The entire western region of North America massively benefited from the rain. In fact, what was essentially a three-year drought affecting the entire country ended in 2016.
This year, water levels have improved, reservoirs are filling again and the mountains in California are snow topped after many years. The Sierra Nevada mountain alone has a snowpack that contains much more than the usual amounts of fresh water. About 580 billion gallons of water has now been stored across the state.
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Thanks to the increase in rainfall, California is now seeing something truly beautiful. All the state’s flora is blooming like never before in a phenomenon called the ‘super bloom’. Residents from across California have been posting breath taking images of flowers carpeting the ground as far as the eye can see. In fact, in certain areas, some are even calling it a ‘super bloom apocalypse’ and it seems to be deserving of the term.
Lake Elsinore, just South East of LA, doesn’t usually see a lot of visitors. But this year the town has had to declare a public safety emergency after thousands and thousands of visitors descended on it to witness the super bloom!
Here’s a closer look at California's #superbloom ! Our unusually persistent December, January and February rain showers have brought the Golden State's drought-stricken and wildfire-ravaged hills a gloriously display of Springtime Wild Flowers. pic.twitter.com/cUY84GgfDy— Sue Hweamel #REALTOR 🏠🔑 (@suehweamel) March 15, 2019
Poppies were running riot all across the hill side and their brilliant colors are attracting people from far and wide. People have been fighting over space in parking lots and there have been stampedes due to tourists’ eagerness to see the flowers. The town isn’t exactly used to handling such an incident but officials are doing their best to ensure that no property is damaged and that the poppies themselves don’t come to harm.
Of course Lake Elsinore isn’t the only location facing these problems. Across the state, highways have been converted into parking spaces, canyons have been shut down, and tourists have had to be rescued by helicopters. People have even rolled down hills as they tried to get the best pictures they could.
Desert Dandelions have blanketed roads in Borrego Springs, the hills of the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County look like they’ve been painted gold and violet, and even people flying in and out of LA have been treated to the site of flowers blooming along the runways in the Los Angeles International Airport.
Having the flowers around has also brought another form of beauty to the state. Butterflies are thriving, thanks to the super bloom, and even painted ladies, a variety that had been declining, could be seen coming into California in huge flocks. This is the first time since 2005 that millions of these butterflies have migrated to the state.
Of course scientists have warned that this situation is too good to last. Many of the flowers are not native to the region and are prone to catch fire quickly. Moreover, according to Jessica Blunden, the state has seen wet winters before but then the drought takes over again. A dry spell can sneak in any time so the super bloom needs to be enjoyed while it lasts.