California

See — from space — how California’s incredible wildflower blooms have changed

‘Super bloom’ crowds create ‘public safety crisis’ for California town

A “super bloom” of poppies near Lake Elsinore was a dream for sightseers, who flocked in their thousands, but a nightmare for locals and officials, who said they were dealing with “chaos." This footage shows the super bloom in the Walker Canyon.
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A “super bloom” of poppies near Lake Elsinore was a dream for sightseers, who flocked in their thousands, but a nightmare for locals and officials, who said they were dealing with “chaos." This footage shows the super bloom in the Walker Canyon.

California’s wildflower super bloom is so vibrant, it can be seen from planes flying tens of thousands of feet overhead — and, in some cases, even from space.

Travelers flying out of Los Angeles International Airport may be able to see splotches of the bright orange California poppies covering the hills of Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore in Riverside County.

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The wild poppy super bloom in Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, as seen from a plane flying 30,000 feet above the area on March 15, 2019. Courtesy photo

The bloom was clearly visible in March photos captured from 30,000 feet above the area, which was overrun by “Disneyland-size crowds” last month.

Here’s a roundup of all the Central Coast and Southern California wildflower blooms that are bright enough to be seen from space, complete with updates from mid-March to early April.

Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore, Riverside County

The Walker Canyon poppy bloom appears clearly in recent satellite photos. A comparison to images taken in August show how heavy winter rains turned the hillsides green and brought out the wildflowers.

The orange bloom isn’t quite as bright in more recent April satellite pictures, but splotches of gold appear to have popped up, as well.

Priya Krishnakumar, a Los Angeles Times data reporter, compared the bloom to dust from Doritos nacho cheese chips.

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Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Los Angeles County

The California poppies at this state reserve are in full bloom and putting on a show.

A recent photo tweeted by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center — located at Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County — show the flowers as captured in aerial photos.

The bloom shows up vividly in recent satellite photos — only two weeks ago, the flowers weren’t visible from space.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County

Satellite photos also show swathes of yellow wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego. Although the golden hue doesn’t pop as much against the desert backdrop, the bloom is still visible from space.

The state park’s wildflowers have faded slightly since mid-March, as is visible in recent satellite photos.

Carrizo Plain National Monument, San Luis Obispo County

The wildflowers in bloom at the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo are also popping enough to be captured in satellite photos. The yellow flowers, in particular, can be seen in the area around Soda Lake — both in the hills and on the plain.

The bloom appears just slightly brighter in the April satellite photo, and a pocket of purple can be seen east of Soda Lake.

Cuyama Valley hillsides, Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara County’s bloom is also colorful enough to be seen from space. Satellite pictures show the fields of gold visible in the hills overlooking the Cuyama Valley along Highway 166.

The bloom is an even brighter shade of yellow in a recent photo taken on April 2.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers communities in northern San Luis Obispo County. Lindsey became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.
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