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A 'super bloom' of wildflowers blankets Death Valley's landscape

It’s been 11 years since the harsh Death Valley landscape was this full of life.

In a five-hour span four months ago, enough rain fell on Death Valley’s dusty flatlands and parched hillsides that it produced the first springtime “super bloom” of wild flowers in the park since 2005.

“Super bloom” isn’t an official term, National Park Service officials say, but it has come to describe the rare floral pageant of yellows, pinks, purples and reds that blanket the desert moonscape after a perfect combination of seasonal rain and temperatures.

More than a dozen types of flowers are blooming, officials say.

“When I first came to work here in the early 1990s I kept hearing old timers talk about super blooms as a near mythical thing – the ultimate possibility of what a desert wildflower bloom could be,” said Park Ranger Alan Van Valkenburg in a statement. “I never imagined that so much life could exist here in such staggering abundance and intense beauty.”

Just like the last two super blooms, this one is coming in an El Niño year. It started at the park’s lower elevations on the south end and has steadily blossomed northward to the Furnace Creek Wash and is stretching beyond, the Park Service said.

The bloom isn’t quite as plentiful as the one in 2005, but is remarkable in its own right, officials said.

Though wildflowers bloom every year, their density and variety depends on winter weather. The desert park typically receives about 2 inches of rain a year, but on Oct. 18, it received 2.7 inches, the National Weather Service reported.

The downpour created a flash flood that washed out roadways and seriously damaged Scotty’s Castle, a park attraction. The ornate mansion was built as a vacation getaway in the 1930s.

Staff writer Louis Sahagun contributed to this report.

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