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California desert sees "superbloom" after winter of heavy rains

CBS News logo CBS News 3/13/2017 John Blackstone

BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. -- When wildflowers bloom like this in the Southern California desert, it’s a sight to treasure.

“This is not to be missed,” said one man.

Visitors to Anza-Borrego State Park east of San Diego are witnessing the desert at its most colorful. It’s a rare display thanks to rain this winter that finally broke California’s drought.

“Almost overnight you will come out and you will go, ‘oh goodness, where did the yellows, and the purples, and the whites come from?’” said Steve Bier, who has been a park ranger at Anza-Borrego for 15 years.

The winter storms brought double the average rainfall to the area, enough to bring to life wildflower seeds that have been lying on the desert floor for years.

“There are some that have been waiting for decades,” Bier said. “This is beautiful. I mean you can’t look at this and imagine that someone could come out and say nothing survives in the desert.”


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But it’s also true that nothing survives for long in the desert. 

The wildflowers are already being consumed by hungry caterpillars also having their brief moment to thrive in this harsh landscape. And temperatures climbing over 100 degrees will quickly wilt what the caterpillars leave behind. 

But for a few weeks, blossoms are everywhere.

For now, in this desert, even a cactus is much more than its spikes.

“When it happens desert wide this is one that just takes your breath away,” Bier said.


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