Lack Of Rain Means No Poppy Super Bloom This Year

For the past two springs, bright orange California poppies covered the hills around Lake Elsinore as far as the eye could see. But a lack of rain this past winter means no super bloom this spring.

Video Transcript

- Bright orange flowers as far as the eye could see. Parts of the Inland Empire were covered in the most glorious blooms of poppies the past two years.

- Suzie, what about this year? Many people may be disappointed. KCAL 9 Inland Empire reporter Nicole Comstock traveled to Lake Elsinore tonight.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: If you're looking for purple petals or a few yellow flowers, you'll find them here in the hills of Lake Elsinore. But this is the only little sprig of bright orange California poppies we found blooming in Walker Canyon.

REBECCA KUZELKA: I was wondering, when is it going to happen? When is it going to happen? So it's not, huh?

NICOLE COMSTOCK: It certainly doesn't seem so. The epic super blooms of years past that covered 600 acres of hillsides along the 15 freeway as early as February, drew hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area, and jammed up traffic for miles are nowhere to be found. This is an aerial view from 2019, and this is an aerial view from today.

REBECCA KUZELKA: That's so sad.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: We get a feeling Lake Elsinore resident Rebecca Kuzelka will run into far fewer Instagram photographers out here in 2021, since the backdrop is a bunch of dry brush.

Here's why. By SoCal standards, 2019 was a pretty impressive year for rainfall. We got about 20 inches of rain that winter, compared to only about 4 and 1/4 inches of rain this winter.

Elevated wind and cooler temperatures also helped the 2019 super bloom take root.

REBECCA KUZELKA: I took so many photos. The dog sitting in the middle of them. Pictures of me sitting down in them, you know?

NICOLE COMSTOCK: But back then, so many people followed suit, the city shut down access to the canyon.

REBECCA KUZELKA: The first week it burst out, I drove to church. Took me an hour and a half to get home because I kept trying different routes. They were blocked.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Come to think of it, Rebecca and her dog, Bass, don't miss the poppies and the problems that came with them all that much. They still enjoy their walks through the canyon.

REBECCA KUZELKA: We just like to be out. But the flowers were just a plus.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Reporting in Lake Elsinore, Nicole Comstock, KCAL 9 News.