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.

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

Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?

If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.

The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.

View Comments

  • 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.

      • 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?

        • 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.

  • 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?

    • It's open 24 hours there are no time restrictions (other than parking). Yes, it's beautiful in the evening.

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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.

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

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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

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