Record rainfall brings wildflower super bloom (and Instagrammers) to California

Mar 19 2019, 9:28 pm

After years of drought-like conditions, parts of Southern California have seen some of the wettest days in years — and in some cases in decades — this winter. Following the record rainfall, much of Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert is now experiencing a super bloom of wildflowers, including poppies, primroses and lilies, which are now drawing tens of thousands of spectators from across the state.

Super bloom sparks massive butterfly migration

 

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The intense explosion of wildflowers, which can actually be seen from outer space (we repeat: outer space), is the product of substantial rainfall, cool daytime temperatures, and cold nights, and has simultaneously sparked a massive butterfly migration. Over the past week, millions of painted lady butterflies could be seen floating across SoCal skies, migrating north from the US/Mexico border in a bright cloud to feast on the outburst of colourful blooms.

But butterflies weren’t the only thing to swarm the fields of wildflowers — tens of thousands of people reportedly flocked to the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore over the weekend, causing what locals are calling the poppy apocalypse of 2019.

Instagrammers add to #PoppyApocalypse

 

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About a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles, the city of Lake Elsinore, home to about 60,000 residents, was overwhelmed over the weekend from around 150,000 people who flocked to the flaming orange hillsides to take in the surge of wild poppies. (And get the perfect gram, undoubtedly.)

Although the city tried to prepare for the onslaught of crowds, (a super bloom in 2017 caused similar pandemonium), a free shuttle service that hoped to mitigate traffic wasn’t enough, and the city was forced to close access to the poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon on Sunday.

Traffic reportedly got so bad, that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighbouring jurisdictions to aid with a grid-locked Interstate 15 and blocked trailheads.

To make matters worse, the poppies popped up on the steep sides of the canyon, causing some wildflower-seekers to slide and fall down the side of Walker Canyon, trampling flowers in their wake.

As USA Today reported, “Families and Instagram-influencer wannabes alike attempted feats of free-climbing and scrambling as large boulders toppled down behind them as every step kicked more rocks loose, threatening to squish children or seniors who couldn’t lunge out of the way fast enough.”

Yikes. We think we’ll sit this one out!

 

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This article was written by Katherine Bertrand, a Vancouver native currently exploring her way across North America in her van. Follow her #vanlife adventures on Instagram – @katherine.bertrand.