Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 21, 2016

It’s a cool morning at the Tidal Basin, but ended up being a clear sunrise. The blossoms are still taking their time with slow & steady progress.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016 taken by David Coleman.

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It's still too early to guess with much confidence when the 2023 bloom will be. But we've seen a much-warmer-than-normal January, and long-range forecasts suggest above-average temperatures continuing as we get deeper into February (after a short very cold spurt at the beginning of the month).

On average, Washington DC's cherry blossoms bloom around late-March into early April, but the precise timing varies year to year depending on the local temperatures in the leadup to the bloom. You can find general information on the 2023 bloom to help plan your visit here.

There's not a lot new since yesterday, although it's a much prettier morning.

The trees are making slow and steady progress, but the cold weather is making it a rather drawn-out start to the bloom. That's likely to change in the next few days as we get some warmer-than-normal weather and the pace picks up again as we get deeper into the week.

There was a little snow overnight, but none of it stuck and there's no sign of it this morning. The clouds cleared out right in time for sunrise, but there were only a handful of people on hand at the Tidal Basin to enjoy it.

In the early morning, at least, it's still very quiet at the Tidal Basin. Parking is easy, and the special traffic restrictions that are put in place along Ohio Drive when the crowds start arriving haven't been implemented yet.

It looks the sun will be out for a good portion of today and will be joined by a stiff breeze. If you head down to the Tidal Basin today you won't have any trouble finding flowers out, although it's still a minority of trees that are blooming. Most of them have yet to really get going.

Photos From This Morning

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 21, 2016

35 thoughts on “Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 21, 2016”

  1. Hey David,

    I am planning to be there by April 8th, will i get to see any cherry blossom? I am expecting at least some trees with flowers for clicking some photos.

    Reply
      • Thanks David. So, i guess i will miss the main cherry blossom. So, for the other variety east potomac park will be the place,so what would be the best time (morning,afternoon or evening) to see the flowers? My wife can’t walk much , so can you please help me with the nearest parking spot?

        Reply
        • It’s possible to park right next to both of the main clusters. For the ones near the FDR/MLK memorials, there are both regular and disabled parking spots right next to the trees (that is, right next to the FDR Memorial). For the larger grove further along East Potomac Park, there are spots all along the side of Ohio Drive and it’s a very quiet area so there’s rarely much competition for spots there.

  2. We are going to the place on 25th afternoon. How long the entry will be allowed to the park? Is it good in the night(late evening) also?

    Reply
    • The main ones will be gone by then, but you might catch the Kwanzan cherries. They bloom a couple of weeks later. There aren’t as many, but they’re particularly pretty. I have more information on them here.

      Reply
  3. I will be in DC this weekend at a hotel very near the Green Belt metro station and think it would be easiest to just take the Metro rather than drive and park. Which station should I exit at for the shortest walk to the Basin?

    Reply
    • If you don’t want to change trains, L’Enfant Plaza is close. Smithsonian is another good choice, but that’s on a different line. More info here.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for all the updates!

    I’m planning on driving in with my family very early (around sunrise, maybe a bit earlier) and we want to park as close to the Tidal Basin as possible as that’s where I’m hoping to get some pictures. Will the Ohio Drive parking lots be open this weekend? Is that the best place to look for a spot? It is typically where I park when I want to go to the Tidal Basin.

    Reply
    • Yes, they’ll be open. But I suspect that the special traffic flow restrictions will be in place by then. So you probably won’t be able to enter down by Arlington Memorial Bridge but will have to go by the Jefferson Memorial.

      Reply
  5. Hi, i have a photoshoot scheduled for this wednesday. Would that still be considered the peak bloom or should I reschedule it for Friday or Sunday? (Our photographer is booked on Thursday and Saturday)? What would you consider to be the best date for photos this week? Thank you.

    Reply
    • In terms of flowers, you can’t really go wrong any of those days, and you don’t have to be there on the precise peak bloom day to see plenty of flowers (here’s why). Wednesday through Friday is pretty looking good right now, and your photographer won’t have any trouble finding some trees in bloom for a background. In terms of numbers of flowers out, Friday might be ever-so-slightly preferable, but the current weather forecast is a bit iffy with potential rain/storms (although that might change, of course). Crowds are likely over the weekend.

      Reply
  6. My husband and are now retired and this year we are able to come up from Richmond on short notice. I have read your posts daily for the past few days and have booked our train for Thursday. Thank you so much for your updates and photos etc. your site is wonderful.
    Hoping to get great photos! A are the water tours worth it? Or better to walk the tidal basin?

    Reply
    • They can be a scenic way to get around if their schedule works for you. They don’t go on the Tidal Basin itself but around the outside of Hains Point along the Potomac, where there are many more cherry trees lining the waterfront. But do confirm the drop-off point with them ahead of time–when I last checked they weren’t using the National Mall landing point next to the Tidal Basin until early April.

      Reply
      • David:

        I haven’t there several years back, I really loved it!
        I plan to go and see the cherry flowers/blossom this year, is the week March 31 to April 6 good? I need to book hotels and air ticket upfront, I live in Bloomfield Hills, in metro Detroit, Michigan, I know no one can predict or guarantee the peak day, based on the past years’ cherry blossom experience, which day , 3 day duration range, would you recommend. Thank you!

        Reply
        • correction: I have been there in Washington DC for the cherry blossom festival, my family and loved and enjoyed it so much.

        • In the past 24 hours or so, both the National Park Service and Washington Post have issued their peak bloom predictions. The NPS predicts April 3-6; the Post predicts April 1-5. From where we sit right now, I’ve got no reason to think that those aren’t good. Of course, the weather might end up throwing those off, but that’s the best information we have right now. More info here.

  7. Hi David,
    Your site is extremely informative as always. Your time is greatly appreciated, many thanks! Based on the current development stage, it is now at Peduncle Elongation, so with the next 4 warm days (especially Wed & Thurs), I keep my fingers crossed for full bloom by either Friday or Saturday. We will have full day on Thursday + Friday, is it still pretty even it is not full bloom by Thursday? We will fly out by 6pm on Saturday morning, so I guess it is sweet enough to enjoy the blossom in the morning.

    Reply
    • Your timing looks to be excellent. While we tend to talk a lot about “peak bloom,” you don’t have to be there on that specific day to see a wonderful sight. For at least two days before and two days after you have what I’d consider full bloom and prime viewing. “Peak bloom” is a fairly technical determination that is quite specific–here’s more about what I mean. So long as the weather cooperates, you’ll be in for a treat!

      Reply
  8. Hi David!
    We will be in DC on March 29. Do you think we will still be able to see some cherry blossoms? Will the possible rain this coming Friday slow down the process?

    Reply
    • There should be some left to see, but how many is impossible to say in advance. There might be a lot left, or maybe only a few. It really depends on how this week goes and the weather we get between now and then. Here’s a detailed timeline of what to expect in the days following peak bloom. The rain shouldn’t slow things down, but it’s possible that it might knock some petals off. But there are so many to start with that even if it knocks a large number off, there should still be a large number left on the trees.

      Reply
  9. Hello David,
    We travel from Florida every year to see the cherry blossoms. We follow and appreciate your pictures and updates. Much easier to gauge than the web-cam we used to rely on.
    Thank you

    Reply
  10. The only day we will be able to get to DC is tomorrow (Tuesday.) My husband has never been so I don’t want him to be disappointed. Do you think there will be enough to see to make it worth going tomorrow? Also, we heard the turf is all dug up at the park. Do you know if that’s true and how that impacts walking around? Thanks – your site is extremely informative!

    Reply
    • They’re not in full bloom yet, but there are trees flowering. With the photos I’ve posted this morning I’ve tried to give a sense of what you can expect to see if you visit today. There’ll be some more flowers out tomorrow, but with today’s relatively cool temperatures it will probably be a relatively modest progression from today. Not sure what you mean by the park being dug up. Some of the National Mall is being renovated, which is quite a long-term, major effort that means there’s a construction zone in the middle of part of the Mall to the east of the Washington Monument, but it really has no impact on walking around and is also a reasonable distance from the Tidal Basin. Some of the fields around the Tidal Basin are fenced off to give the grass a chance to regrow, but again it’s not really a factor for walking around.

      Reply
  11. How long does the cherry blossoms usually last before they start fading out? I was going to come to Washington April 5th and 6th will they still be awesome?

    Reply
    • The main ones will be mostly or all gone by then. Here’s a photo timeline from past years that shows what to expect in the days after peak bloom. But you might be in luck with with the Kwanzan cherries. There aren’t as many of them, but they bloom a couple of weeks later and are very pretty. Here’s more info on them, including how to find some of the larger clusters.

      Reply
  12. Your page is so informative! I have an engagement photo shoot scheduled for Friday at sunrise but am thinking to push it back to Saturday due to the rain forecast. Will there still be good photo opportunities for nice blossoms on Saturday compared to Friday?

    Reply
  13. Hi David,

    Thanks for the daily updates.
    We will be in DC this Friday and Saturday.
    Which day would you think is best to see the flowers and avoid crowd?
    We have a toddler son and worried about the rain forecast on Friday

    Reply
    • Both should be good for flowers. Friday is likely to be less crowded even without the threat of storms. If you do go Friday and a storm seems imminent, the Jefferson Memorial offers the best protection (there are entrances at the sides that don’t require dragging a stroller up the steps), but there are also bookshops and restrooms at both the FDR Memorial and MLK Memorial. On the other side, the NPS has food and information tents set up in a parking lot which will also provide some protection. So there’s at least some protection at several points all the way around. We have a couple of toddlers too, and they often come down to “help”. The biggest thing to watch is that there’s no railing around most of the Tidal Basin, and even in those sections where there is one it’s nowhere near being toddler-proof. I’ve never seen anyone actually fall in, but I have seen strollers that have fallen in and been abandoned.

      Reply
  14. Your watch page is always outstanding and informative – thanks for helping so many of us. I’ve arranged to be in DC for either Wed or Thur this week. I know I’m already very lucky with my timing, but do you have a suggestion for which day I should choose?

    Reply
    • In terms of flowers, Thursday is probably the safer bet simply because it gives just that little extra time for more flowers to pop.

      Reply

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