Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 4, 2020

The indicator tree is just starting to flower, the saucer magnolias are starting, and peak bloom forecasts are coming out.

DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on March 20, 2020. They're now done for the year.

UPDATE: The NPS announced their peak bloom prediction to be March 27-30.

It’s a clear and quite mild morning at the Tidal Basin. After some cooler temperatures last week, we’re back into warmer weather. The indicator tree is just starting to flower, and the saucer magnolias are starting to come out.

There were a few developments yesterday. The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang posted their initial peak bloom prediction for the 2020 season. They said that they expect DC’s cherry blossoms to reach peak bloom sometime between March 25 and 29.

Also yesterday, the National Park Service determined that the cherry trees had reached the Florets Visible stage, the second of the six stages they track into the bloom.

And a new player in the peak bloom prediction game, Storm Team4 of the local NBC station, have predicted that peak bloom will fall sometime between March 18 and March 23.

The National Park Service will be revealing their prediction later this morning–stay tuned!

This Morning at the Tidal Basin

Here are some shots to give a sense of how it’s looking this morning down at the Tidal Basin.

Early Bloomers

This is a tree I typically track through the blooming process, trying to focus in on the same specific small section to be able to see the day-by-day progress.

This is a different variety and is separate from the indicator tree (on the opposite side of the Tidal Basin), but it reliably marches ahead of the other trees by several days.

You can see that even a few days can make quite a difference.

March 4

March 1

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree is one on the south-eastern side of the Tidal Basin that is reliably a week or two ahead of the others. I have more information on it, including how to find it, here.

It’s just starting to flower. For now, it’s only a very small number of blossoms, but more will come out in coming days.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

The indicator tree.

Saucer Magnolias

The saucer magnolias are starting to come out but aren’t in full bloom yet.

I took these photos early this morning at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Saucer magnolias at the Enid A. Haupt Garden.

Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is undergoing a major renovation project to clean the dome and replace parts of the roof. So the exterior is covered in scaffolding (you can still access the interior, which is mostly scaffolding free).

There’s no particular news here—it’s been going on for some time—but from time to time I’ll include some shots of it mainly so that any photographers planning some sunrise shots know what to expect and don’t get a disappointing surprise when they turn up to find scaffolding.

Things Happening Nearby

Elsewhere Around and Near the Tidal Basin:

  • The traffic patterns around West Potomac Park are normal. And the parking lot near the paddle boats is open.
  • The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is drained for repairs. It’s likely to be drained through mid-March.
  • The Jefferson Memorial is covered in scaffolding to clean the domed roof. The project isn’t expected to be finished before May.
  • The water features of the FDR Memorial are still drained and turned off. They turn them back on once the risk of freezing has receded.
  • The Washington Monument is open and back in business and scaffolding-free.

Related

In related news, apparently Japan’s cherry blossom festivals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Last updated March 8, 2020

View Comments

  • We are planning a trip to DC March 21st weekend. Do you think we will see any cherry blossoms!

    Thank you so much for this wonderful website!!!

    • There should be at least some out, and it's possible there'll be a lot. But it's too early just yet to say what it will look like. But there'll be plenty of updates between now and then.

  • Great site! Thanks for doing what you do! :) I'm mostly interested in the Kwanzan variety and have read that their peak is typically 1-2 weeks after the Yoshino trees. In the past, have you been able to find Kwanzan trees and peak/full bloom at the same time as Yoshino trees? Or do they really only bloom after the Yoshino? Thanks!

    • It is possible for them to reach peak bloom in under a week after the Yoshinos, but that's rare. I've posted a chart on the Kwanzan page that shows how many days after the Yoshinos they reach peak bloom.

  • Hi Dave, Do you know what's up in Baltimore area? Does the peak coincide? Can't find much about places to get nice shots there. Looking for just trees, not so much buildings/people...
    Thanks for your postings, nice work you do!

  • We will be there next week:) We hope that there will be lots of color to see on the blossoms when we finally arrive. Do you anticipate lots of new blooms or do you think it will look like these pics now?

    • There might be a small number of scattered cherry blossoms out, but most of them won't be blooming yet. But as a consolation, your timing should be very good for the saucer magnolias. There are quite a few places around town to see them, but the Enid A. Haupt Garden right behind the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall is a real treat. You can see some examples here.

  • I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful website. Last year it helped me plan a perfect four day trip during peak bloom!

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