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Desert in bloom? Wildflowers could sprout along storms path
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Outdoor enthusiasts looking for wildflowers in the Mojave Desert this year are likely to encounter the blossoms only along the path of a storm that moved through Las Vegas last month.

Should wildflowers bloom at all in the coming months after a dry fall and winter, experts believe it will occur in a roughly 50-mile-wide (80-kilometer-wide) area, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

The swath of land stretching from southern Nevada to Yucca Valley, California, is showing early signs of germination, said Jim Andre, director of the Granite Mountains Desert Research Center.

The area hit by the storm includes the eastern edge of Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave National Preserve and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas.

“There is still a chance we’ll see some annuals pop up,” Andre said. “This one rain in a season of bone-dry might get some response. It’s not looking real promising, but it’s not a guarantee.”

Las Vegas went without rain for 116 days before the early January storm. It dropped an inch (2.5 centimeters) or more of rain on parts of the desert where rain has not been recorded for at least 300 days, Andre said.

In some past years, so-called superblooms have spurred flocks of tourists to visit desert areas like Death Valley National Park. A superbloom covered the valley with wildflowers in 2016, resulting in record park attendance.

The park is unlikely to experience a superbloom this year due to the lack of rain, said Patrick Taylor, the acting chief of interpretation for the park.

While the number of desert visitors might dip, Andre said researchers might have the opportunity to learn how annual plants respond to receiving their only moisture from a single storm.

“We haven’t really seen this scenario before in the last 100 years,” Andre said.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,