Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 30, 2016

The trees are still looking lovely. When you get a up close you can certainly see that they're in transition. But from a distance they still look great and are holding up well.

The trees are still looking lovely. When you get a up close you can certainly see that they’re in transition. But from a distance they still look great and are holding up well.

While the rain and wind we had for a couple of days didn’t help, the cooler temperatures, and still conditions overnight, are helping now.

There were quite a lot of people out and about this morning. A number of photographers were set up opposite the Jefferson Memorial to catch the sunrise, a couple of photo tour groups were out to catch the golden hour light, and there were the usual runners and people heading to work, but it’s still relatively quiet. Parking is easy and traffic light.

Although it’s a crisp morning, the breezy weather of the past couple of days have let up and the sun is out. Conditions are about perfect for wandering under the cherry blossoms.

Prospects for the Weekend of April 2-3

I’ve had a lot of people asking about prospects for this weekend. It’s hard to say exactly which days there will still be cherry blossoms to see. It’s a gradual process–not every tree is on the same schedule–and it’s highly dependent on the weather.

Overall, they’re holding up well so far, but there are showers and/or rain in the forecast for Thursday evening through Friday, followed by windy conditions. The flowers are getting very fragile now, and they’re not going to like the rain and wind much at all.

So the best chances of seeing them are the earlier you can go. There’s probably not going to be much see by the end of the weekend (until the Kwanzans start), although it’s always possible there might be some late straggler trees that are marching to their own drum.

Prospects for the Weekend of April 9-10

In the previous three years, we saw late peak blooms of April 9 or 10. This year, warm weather helped them bloom early, and by the weekend of April 9-10 the main cherry blossoms will be long gone.

But the timing might be good for catching the Kwanzan cherry blossoms. They bloom a couple of weeks after the Yoshinos. There aren’t as many of them, but they’re very distinctive and pretty. I have information on how to find them here. And I’ll be posting updates on them from time to time until they bloom, so be sure to check back on this site.

If You Miss the Cherry Blossoms

If you’re visiting Washington DC in the spring but miss cherry blossoms, you might catch the tulips. They usually bloom a bit after the cherry blossoms. While tulips aren’t unique to this area, of course, there are an unusually large number of them in and near the National Mall, especially up around the grounds near the U.S. Capitol Building, near Memorial Bridge, along the George Washington Parkway, and at the Netherlands Carillon, and they are quite a highlight in their own right (here are some examples).

And the area has some other exceptional spots to catch spring flowers like the National Arboretum, River Farm, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Dumbarton Oaks. Here are some other suggestions.

Photos From This Morning

This is the kind of thing you can expect to see if you head down today.

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.

Last updated March 15, 2017 1:23 pm

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  • Thank you so much for your wonderful site! We just returned from a short 2 day trip (Sun night to Tues afternoon). Your site was a fantastic help while I planned my trip. I was so worried about timing it right. We had a lovely day with the cherry blossoms Monday, despite the occasional rain and windy evening. The bloom coincided with our spring break this year and I am so happy I made the trip from Raleigh. I saw many photographers at the Tidal Basin Monday and often wondered if you were one of them. I won't get to make the trip again next year, but will check your site for 2017 pictures. I really enjoy your pictures and the detailed updates!

  • Hi David!

    Thanks for the consistent update - I have been following it faithfully every single day since a couple friends and I are heading to DC this coming weekend. I know the blossom is on its way out right now, so I am also hoping to capture sunrise on Saturday morning then the trees. Since this will be my very first visit to DC, I wonder if you have any recommendations for location of the shooting, etc. Any sort of tips is greatly appreciated!

    • A personal favorite for sunrise is the the steps of the Lincoln Memorial--I've done it many times but still find it very special, especially at this time of year, whether taking photos or just enjoying the view. We're still close enough to the equinox that the sun rises roughly along the Reflecting Pool, behind the Washington Monument and US Capitol Building dome, and shines directly onto the statue of Abraham Lincoln. There are a couple of examples here and here and here. It's also lining up well at the moment with the Jefferson Memorial. Here are a few examples. There are other great sunrise spots around the area, but those would be my top picks for a first-time visitor, and they're either very close or amongst the cherry blossoms. And if you do plan to line up the sunrise, I recommend one of these smartphone apps if you're not already using one. Then you just have to keep your fingers crossed that the weather cooperates!

      • Thank you so much for your detailed response and great recommendations! As of right now it looks like a gloomy Sat. is ahead so maybe I'll shoot for Sunday. Very excited about the trip and thanks again for maintaining such an amazing site for cherry blossom/photography lovers!

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