California may never have seen a super bloom like this before. Although it’s been only two years since the last one, locals say this one is even better.

In recent weeks, flowers have exploded in parts of Central and Southern California and are advancing north.

In some places, it’s been termed the “super bloom apocalypse.”

Interstates have become parking lots, mountain canyons have had to be closed, flower chasers have been found stuck in the mud by helicopters, and folks have tumbled down hillsides trying to get the perfect shot.


Satellite imagery shows the super bloom of poppies on hillsides along Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore, Calif., on March 19. (Digitalglobe/Reuters)

A super bloom is simply an outbreak of flowers that exceeds the norm. They tend to occur about once a decade on average in California, but this is the second in three years. The last one followed record precipitation in the winter of 2016-17.

Abundant rain and mountain snow are again responsible for this year’s bloom. The past winter ranked 47th-wettest on record in California. This followed a rather dry start to winter and a fall full of wildfires.

Ultimately, atmospheric rivers ended up spraying the state for weeks on end, and it was declared drought-free for the first time since 2011. Perhaps to celebrate, the flower display has been so intense that satellites orbiting Earth have had no trouble seeing the bloom.


Satellite imagery shows the super bloom of poppies on hillsides along Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore, Calif., on March 19. (Digitalglobe/Reuters)

The super bloom got its start several weeks ago in the deserts of California. A carpet of flowers has since progressed toward the shore and is traveling north.


The hills of the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County appear as if they were painted by super bloom. (Mimi Ditchie Photography)

A field of desert dandelions on Di Giorgio Road in Borrego Springs, Calif. (Bob Cates/Flickr)

The desert super bloom in North Palm Springs, Calif. (Angela Kenny/Flickr)

Massive new blooms are expected to continue over the next several weeks into Central and Northern California. Some coastal and mountain areas may keep the bloom going into summer.

“[T]his is something unlike anything we have ever experienced . . . and may never again,” according to the Facebook page of the city of Lake Elsinore, one of the ground zero locations of this Poppypalooza.

While it might be unclear whether the city was referring to the flowers or to the many people with selfie sticks that led to areas being closed, the eventual trending of #PoppyShutdown on social media may offer clues.


People pose for a picture among wildflowers in bloom March 18 in Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Gregory Bull/AP)

City officials estimate over 150,000 people visited the flower-painted hillsides of Lake Elsinore last weekend alone.

Most of those folks flocked to Walker Canyon, which was even closed for a time because of overcrowding. Images of the color-sprayed hills are particularly stunning given the huge coverage of poppies. Those California blue skies don’t hurt either.


Poppy fields are blooming on the slopes of Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore, Calif., March 8. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Visitors walk through poppy fields during a super bloom in Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg News)

An aerial view of a super bloom of wild poppies blanketing the hills of Walker Canyon on March 12 near Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Flower chasers flock to Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Kim Mulcahy/Flickr)

The Associated Press points out that having two super blooms in such close succession is a rarity. For instance, “the 2017 super bloom was the best seen in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in 20 years,” it wrote.

Many locals have said this year’s super bloom is even better than 2017′s.


A painted lady butterfly sucks nectar from a blooming flower in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Calif, on March 19. (Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

While swarms of people have been observed at many of the monstrous flower patches popping up around the state, there’s also been an invasion of butterflies, and other California bugs are loving life.

San Francisco Gate reported the painted lady butterfly species is migrating north with the bloom, which last happened in 2005.


Flowers bloom between runways on the north side of Los Angeles International Airport, treating visitors to a rare visual spectacle. (Los Angeles World Airports/AP)

Some warn this explosion of new life is not all great news.

“Many of the fast-growing plants are non-native and fire-prone, making it likely that the hills will be charred black again sooner rather than later,” wrote Julie Cart of CALmatters.


A super bloom of wild poppies blankets the hills of Walker Canyon, while hills charred from the Holy Fire can be seen in the background, near Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Given a large number of major wildfires roaring across all corners of the state in recent years, a lot of the hardier plant life has been killed off. This younger plant material does look amazing, but it will also likely add to fuel at a later date, especially should dry times return as they tend to do in the region.