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Mr. Smarty Plants - Visiting Texas for bluebonnets

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Wednesday - December 29, 2004

From: Corvallis, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Visiting Texas for bluebonnets
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I know rainfall amounts in the winter affect the blooming of bluebonnets in the spring. I am thinking about visiting Texas this spring. What should I be looking for in rainfall amounts? I will watch the national news. I am in Oregon

ANSWER:

Rainfall amounts in Texas can be quite variable. For example, the average yearly rainfall for Austin (at Camp Mabry) is 33.42. For the late fall/winter months the average is: October=3.26 inches; November=2.56; December=2.52; January=1.97; February=2.38, March=2.23; and April=3.27. You can see this data at the National Weather Service Forecast web page.

The bluebonnets for spring of 2003 were very good. The rainfall for the winter and spring of 2002/2003 were as follows: Oct. 2002=6.68; November 2002=3.04; December 2002=4.52; January 2003=1.71; February 2003=3.87, March 2003=0.54; and April 2003=0.10. In this case the rainfall for October through February were well above average but dropped below average in March and April.

The bluebonnets for spring of 2004 were good, also, but not quite as spectacular as 2003. The rainfall for the the fall/winter months of 2003/2004 were as follows: October 2003=1.03; November 2003=1.32; December 2003=0.50; January 2004=4.15; February 2004=3.73; March 2004=2.31; and April 2004=3.97.

So--for the 2003 bluebonnets the majority of the rainfall occurred from October through February and for the 2004 bluebonnets the majority of the rainfall occurred from January through March.

The rainfall so far for winter 2004 is: October 2004=4.62 and a very high record for November 2004 of 14.1 inches. So far for December 2004 we have received only 0.33, but the National Weather Service has predicted a higher than usual rainfall for the winter of 2005 for Central Texas. Since October and November had more than abundant rainfall, if January, February, and March approach at least the average rainfall, we should see a spectacular bluebonnet bloom season around the Austin area in spring 2005.

There are several places to check on the progress of the bluebonnets once blooming begins. You can look for our annual Wildflower Forecast from the Wildflower Center web page during early spring, a service providing info on travel routes for best wildflower viewing in Texas. Another resource is provided by the Texas Department of Transportation. They have a Travel Information line that provides up-to-date information of seasonal road conditions on Texas public highways. Their phone number is: 1-800-452-9292. They also support and have partnered with Lone Star Internet, Inc. with a "Wildflower Sightings" web-page, where you can view past years sightings. Additionally, another resource is provided by the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau (Wildflower Watch).
 

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