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May 6

Fleeting Wonders: Potential Superbloom Brings Life To Death Valley

Death in the background, life in the foreground.

Death in the background, life in the foreground. (Screenshot: National Park Service/YouTube)

Death Valley has been looking pretty life-affirming lately. The park, named for its barren hills and salty basins, is currently playing host to a growing amount of perky spring wildflowers. In fact, if current conditions continue, the valley might be in for a once-in-a-decade event: a superbloom.

“Superblooms” require a perfect storm of conditions: steady rain in the winter and spring, warm temperatures, and low winds. This year, El Nino seems to be delivering all three, Park Ranger Alan Van Valkenberg said in a recent video. When superblooms happen, “Death Valley really does go from being a valley of death to being a valley of life,” the ranger enthused.

“You always get flowers somewhere in Death Valley almost every month of the year,” says Van Valkenberg, “but to have a big bloom like this, which we hope will become a superbloom… those are quite rare.” The last one happened in 2005.

This year is shaping up to be a real contender: the Southeastern part of the park is blanketed with yellow and pink, and “more flowers are popping up every week” along Highway 190 and Badwater Road, says the Death Valley Wildflower Update page. Even better, many of these are “super-sized,” portending a bumper crop of buds.

“Visions of great things to come” Van Valkenberg concludes–and then, of course, to go away again.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to [email protected].