Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 10, 2015

The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin are still looking wonderful and are in full bloom, laying the foundation of a beautiful and busy weekend.

UPDATE: The NPS announced this afternoon that the cherry blossoms had reached peak bloom today, April 10. It’s a day ahead of the original NPS forecast of April 11-14 and right in the forecast window issued by the Capital Weather Gang.

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom now. Nearly all the trees are out. While it’s still possible to find trees that haven’t yet fully popped, they’re only a small percentage now, and a peak bloom announcement can’t be too far away.

The trees should look beautiful throughout the weekend. The Yoshinos are white now but will turn pink over the next few days (there are other varieties scattered amongst them that start pink). The indicator tree, which is reliably ahead of the others, is still in full bloom, which bodes well for the other blossoms sticking around. The deeper we get into next week the dicier things become. At some point there’ll be a pivot and the petals will start falling off.

The cherry blossoms are looking beautiful now, but the weather still isn’t holding up its end of the bargain. For the third morning in a row the tip of the Washington Monument has been hidden by clouds and mist. The rainy spell of weather is expected to head out with a bang this afternoon with some storms, clearing the way for a beautiful weekend.

It’s going to be a busy weekend. Be prepared for large crowds and heavy traffic both days. Saturday is the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. On Sunday morning there’ll be extensive road closures in the area around the Tidal Basin for the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. You can find a map of the road closures here, and the Washington Post has some very handy tips to getting around town this weekend here.

Common Questions

What Effect Will Storms Today Have?

Wind, rain, and storms can and do knock petals off the trees. Once they reach peak bloom they become more vulnerable each day. At this stage, chances are that it’s still only a small percentage of the massive amount of flowers on the trees, so they’ll almost certainly still be looking beautiful. There can be quite a blanket of petals on the ground and the trees can still be looking great. Of course, there’s always exceptions and the chance of an unusually severe storm like the one that added the word “derecho” to the local vocabulary. There’s also a chance any storms will be localized and miss the Tidal Basin entirely.

If I’m making plans for myself, the threat of storms today wouldn’t dissuade me from visiting over the weekend. (Be safe during the storms, of course–most of the Tidal Basin area is pretty exposed with limited options for seeking cover.)

Will They Still be Around Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…?

In a “normal” year, you can usually expect to see a beautiful scene for at least 3 days after peak bloom. At the time of writing, there has not been an NPS announcement that we’ve reached peak bloom, so we don’t know when the clock starts (or started) ticking. Storms, wind, rain, and hot weather can hurry things along. And there’s always natural variation–as this year has shown clearly, the trees aren’t much interested in historical averages or “normal.”

Since I have no special way of seeing into the future, my only real answer is “perhaps” and that the further we get away from peak bloom the less there will be to see. There can be a big changes even within 24 hours. So the chances Monday are significantly better than Friday.

For another point of reference, last year the trees bloomed at right around this time. The trees reached bloom on a Thursday (April 10). They were looking stunning through a beautiful and warm Saturday and Sunday (you can see photos here). By Monday they were very quickly on their way out, and by Tuesday morning there wasn’t much left to see (photos here).

I also have a photo timeline based on past years of what to expect, when that might help.

I’ll also be posting more updates over coming days, so stay tuned!

Where is the Best Parking?

There aren’t any magic solutions to the parking crush, so some combination of Metro and walking is by far the best bet (see: How to Get There).

If you do plan on driving and parking, don’t forget the road closures on Sunday morning.

There’s parking along Ohio Drive SW and around the outer edge of East Potomac Park/Hains Point (with a free shuttle bus circulating). There are also three smallish parking lots just under the 14th Street Bridge behind the George Mason Memorial. All the nearby parking options are well signed. There will, however, be a lot of competition for the spots, so expect to be battling traffic gridlock throughout the National Mall and Tidal Basin area (the photo at the top of the How To Get There page was taken on this weekend last year and gives a good illustration of the problem).

Metro will open early, at 5AM, on Sunday morning (7AM on Saturday). Other than that, they’ll be running regular weekend service both days. More info here and here.

Here are some more good tips from the Washington Post.

Photos

Here are some shots from early this morning that will give some idea of what you can expect to see.

Nikon 105.0 mm f/2.8 on FX

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree is still very much in bloom. While some petals have started falling off, it’s still a relatively small percentage.

Reflecting Pool

Still drained. There won’t be any of this pr this over the weekend.

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 December 29, 2016 2:06 pm

View Comments

  • Thanks for the up to date status you provide, it's an unmatched public service helping those needing to plan a trip. Your timely input even exceeds the NPS and other official sites. Keep up the good work, look forward to being there this weekend

  • I agree with Neil. Your information and gorgeous photos really provide the best service for planning a trip. Thank you so much.

  • I have been watching your site for the last 4 years. I have run the Cherry Blossom Festival 2 of those years and have either been early for the bloom or late. I have the opportunity to be in D.C. this weekend for work and will have time Sunday afternoon for visit to the Tidal Basin. I cannot believe that after all the attempts and seeing these beautiful trees at peak bloom that is finally going to happen.

  • Hi David, What place do you suggest for kids under 4 years? Should be walkable from Smithsonian Metro ;)

    • Our kids love the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, which is right opposite the Smithsonian Metro entrance. If there's any interest in trains, the Smithsonian American History Museum is great (and has a lot of other non-train attractions too). If planes and spaceships are more their thing, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, is on the same side of the Mall as the station. All of these are within about a 3 to 5-minute walk from the station entrance. And the old-fashioned carousel just near the Air and Space Museum on the Mall is a classic stop.

      • And even better, with the exception of the carousel, all are free (but beware the gift shops--they have some pretty great stuff!)

  • Another great update! Thanks so much!
    Based on the pictures I am putting my bet on Sunday over Saturday for pink blossom. Would you agree?

  • Wow, I have my visit planned for Sat/ Sun this weekend with my 4 year old. Can't wait to be there - it looks so amazing. To catch the golden hour on Sunday, you think being there by 6 am is safe bet to avoid crowd and to get some good shots?

    • The timing should be good as far as getting great shots. But you'll be surprised at how many people will be there even that hour, so I'd recommend some padding in your times just in case parking isn't quite as close as you'd like.

      • Sorry, not thinking... You won't be able to park down there Sunday morning because of the road closures. But yes, arriving at 6 should work well in terms of light and finding a good spot for the sunrise.

        • Thanks, I have booked a garage next to my hotel for weekend. Plus, I ordered metro card so will be taking that and reaching there by foot. Smithsonian is the nearest station. Am I right?

          • Yes! Smithsonian is the closest, although it can get pretty crowded when you go back.

            But from what I know, the metro only opens at 7:30 am on Saturday. But it will open 2 hrs early @ 5:30 am on Sunday for the 10K run.

  • The time and effort you put into keeping everyone informed is so appreciated!! Hoping to make a rushed trip on Tuesday to see them (we had planned for Thursday, but that's cutting it too close from the sound of it). We've been trying to catch them for years, really hoping they hold out for us! Thanks again for all that you do!

  • Thanks again David for providing all the beautiful updates and useful information. With the run on Sunday, will there still be access to walk the tidal basin at sunrise?

    • You'll be able to get to and from the Tidal Basin by walking or riding but won't be able to drive or park anywhere in that area. During the race itself, you'll still be able to get to and from, but might end up waiting a while for a gap in the stream of runners so that you can cross the street safely.

  • Love your blog! Especially enjoy the photos and the information is extremely helpful. Do you know if the tulips in the tulip garden will be blooming this weekend?

    • Most of the tulips aren't out yet. I almost took a photo of the Tulip Library this morning just to show how far behind they are. Basically, there's not much to see. There's one very small, low variety that was close to blooming, but that seemed to be about it.

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