Death Valley, CA (CBS News) – El Niño has caused some weather nightmares this winter. But in one parched California desert, El Niño has been a dream come true, creating a “super bloom” of wildflowers.
It is one of the hottest, driest, most unforgiving places on Earth, but water has made Death Valley come alive.
“There’s a huge number of plants here,” said park ranger Abby Wines pointing out Gravel ghost, Phacelia, Rock Daisy, Pin Cushion, and Brown eyed evening primrose.
Abby Wines has been a ranger at Death Valley National Park for 11 years. It has been that long since wildflowers bloomed like this.
“It’s amazing to me that anything lives here,” said Wines. “And then to have this display of beauty all at once is really a pleasure to experience.”
Death Valley normally gets less than 2 inches of rainfall a year. But in October, 3 and 1/2 inches of fell in just five hours wiping out roads and heavily damaging some buildings at Scotty’s Castle, one of the park’s best known landmarks.
Nature destroyed and then gave back as flowers began to spring up in January. They appeared a few at a time until they blanketed entire fields, turning the brown desert into a sea of yellow, purple, and white.
More than a dozen varieties of wildflowers are now painting the park.
It was a reward seldom seen during the state’s relentless drought but thanks to El Nino, for a brief few weeks until the brutal heat returns, the harsh desert is a paradise in full bloom.