The guessing game on how significant the spring bloom in Death Valley National Park will be continues. No one is willing yet to say it will rival the 2005 showcase, but Park Service officials are predicting the "peak bloom," if there is one, will arrive in late March and into early April.
Spring 2005 gained venerated status among flower lovers for its incredible wildflower blooms in Death Valley. That bloom -- dubbed the "bloom of the century" -- was triggered by heavy fall and winter rains that dumped almost 6.5 inches of moisture on Death Valley.
According to park botanists, "the best time to see a spring floral display is in years when rainfall has been several times the Death Valley annual average of about 1.9 inches. In general, heavy rains in late October with no more rain through the winter months, will not bring out the flowers as well as rains that are evenly-spaced throughout the winter and into the spring."
From July 1, 2009, through February 17, rainfall at Furnace Creek measured roughly 2.75 inches, with just over 5 inches falling at Scotty's Castle. Most of that moisture has come since the first of the year, with Furnace Creek reporting right about 2.65 inches of rain during that time-frame, and Scotty's Castle reporting just under 4 inches.
Here's the latest wildflower report from the park:
The wildflower sprouts are still just tiny specks of green among the gravel and have a long way to go before any flowers appear. The most growth is in the central part of Death Valley where visitors may actually notice a “fuzz” of green on some slopes as they drive by. We are still predicting late March to early April for the peak bloom.
The Amargosa River has been flowing steadily into Death Valley from the south for the last few weeks. Water now covers the lowest salt flats of Badwater Basin to create a shallow lake about 8 inches deep (not enough to float a kayak) but about 3 miles wide. Lake Manly has returned!