California Is Drought-Free After 376 Weeks, Rewarded with ‘Super Bloom,’ Butterflies

March 20, 2019 Updated: March 27, 2019

The Pacific U.S. state known for its drought and wildfires is officially drought-free after a staggering 376 weeks. California is now experiencing a surge of flowers and butterflies, known as a “super bloom,” following increasingly abundant snowfall and rain.

The super bloom, which happens only once every 10 years, is creating some incredible scenery. In fact, the blooming wildflowers are so plentiful, they can be seen from space. Even NASA is taking notice.

After seven long years, the Golden State is no longer considered arid. Since Dec. 20, 2011, California has been plagued by drought of some form or other, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Yet, experts have reported improvements since 2017, when precipitation started increasing. Drought-affected land went from 97 percent to 57 percent in 2016. At the same time, nationwide drought came to an end after three years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This is the state’s second super bloom in the last few years.

Now, “abnormally dry” areas in California have decreased to 7 percent. The increase in rain and snow has raised water levels back to what is considered normal. Reservoirs are full. The mountains of northern California are, once again, snow-capped.

The increase in flowers has also resulted in butterflies returning in abundance. In particular, the painted lady, which saw a decline in recent years, is migrating to California by the millions. The state hasn’t seen such a breathtaking explosion of painted lady butterflies since 2005, when the record was set at an estimated 1 billion of the species.

Conservation director James Danoff-Burg of Living Desert Zoo and Gardens took notice of the upsurge while riding his bike in La Quinta. “They were flying parallel to me, just bobbing along as I rode past the date palms,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It was absolutely magical. I felt like a Disney princess.”

Painted Lady butterflies, some of about 1 billion that are swarming through the skies of southern California during their migration north from Mexico, feed on apple blossom flowers in Glendale, Calif., on March 13, 2019. (Getty Images | ROBYN BECK/AFP)

The boom of painted ladies is a welcome sight after their crisis in recent years. The species declined to historic lows in 2018, according to UC Davis ecologist Art Shapiro, via the L.A. Times, and others.

The reason for the explosion is simple: rain in the desert.

“The more plants, the more butterflies,” said Shapiro. “So any year you have a real big bloom in the desert is potentially a big year for painted ladies. When they are scarce nobody notices them.” Shapiro has studied butterflies in California for more than five decades.

Enjoy it while it lasts! Judging from past histories, it could take another 10 years before the bright colored landscapes and dancing butterflies return. In the meantime, though, they’re a welcome sight—even if it only took seven years of drought. Yet, for the many Californians seen enjoying the scenery in photos posted online, it may have been well worth the wait.

Wildflower 'super bloom' visible from space

California has erupted in a “super bloom” of wildflowers. 🌼

BBC News 发布于 2017年4月25日周二

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