Heavy rain in the desert today – sleet and snow where I was hiking. These rains play an important role in shaping the desert community, because they control the growth of winter annual plants. Many plants maintain a large seed bank in the soil, and only grow when conditions are good. This helps these species avoid death and low fecundity in bad years, and may also enable more species to coexist with each other (they can avoid competing with each other if a good year for one species is a bad year for another, for example). Moisture is one of the most important factors for these plants – early winter rains promote germination, then later winter rains enable these plants to grow and flower. It is a short and risky lifestyle, but when it works the desert can look like what you see below!