Southern California desert sees "superbloom" after winter of heavy rains

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.

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Wldflowers bloom in the Southern California desert

CBS News

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.

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Park Ranger Steve Bier

CBS News

“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.”

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

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Caterpillars will eat away some of the blooms

CBS News

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.

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A cactus blossoms in the desert

CBS News

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.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.