No rain, no flowers: 5C students see first superbloom since 2019

Orange poppies bloom in Diamond Lake, Hemet. (Maxine Davey • The Student Life)

For the past few months, California has been covered in a vast array of colorful wildflowers, marking the appearance of what has come to be known as the “superbloom.” 

The term describes a rare phenomenon in which, following a remarkably dry period or prolonged drought, heavy rainfall results in an explosion of flowers across California. 

In recent years, superblooms have become increasingly common occurrences, with the most recent in 2019. This increase is largely due to the impacts of climate change, which have resulted in abnormally pronounced dry and wet seasons. 

Following a dry period of nearly two years one of many such periods in a state characterized by on-and-off drought California saw abnormally high levels of precipitation. This past winter, heavy rains and storms brought over 78 trillion gallons of water to the state, compared to its yearly average of 52 trillion gallons. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this has effectively “wiped out exceptional and extreme drought in California for the first time since 2020.”

Along with a potential end to California’s current drought, these heightened precipitation levels have brought with them a beautiful superbloom, with important implications for the regional effects of climate change in Southern California. Meanwhile, students at the Claremont Colleges are making the most of the event.

Caitlin Niiya PZ ’26 visited the superbloom early in the morning to get the full experience. Growing up in Hawaii, where the weather is relatively constant year-round, Niiya had not previously experienced anything like the superbloom.

“It’s very different … you don’t really see fields of wildflowers or different types of poppies because the climate is so different from SoCal,” Niiya said. 

Phebe Mason PO ’26, originally from New Zealand, compared the superbloom at Chino Hills to Tekapo in New Zealand, which is known for its beautiful lupins.

“[In Tekapo], there are these rows and rows of lupins … it’s really beautiful, and some of the flowers [at the superbloom] reminded me of that,” Mason said. “It kind of looked like a painting with all the colors and the way they were scattered over the hills.”

For many students, visiting the superbloom was more than an opportunity to see flowers or take photos for social media instead, it was a way to relax, unwind and connect with nature.

“I think it’s a really great thing to explore SoCal and just to get yourself situated in the larger geography of Southern California — to just take a break, unplug, and get back into nature,” Emily Gao PO ’26 said. ”

Mason added that the superbloom created a new incentive for students to interact with SoCal beyond the campus grounds of the 7Cs. 

“Claremont can become a bit of a bubble, and although we have lots of really beautiful nature here, I think it’s really important for humans to connect with nature more,” Mason said.

When exploring California’s beautiful superblooms, it’s important to be responsible and to treat nature respectfully. Before visiting a superbloom location, make sure to check out state park websites to ensure compliance with park guidelines.

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