Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 3, 2018

The blossoms themselves are shaping up nicely for later in the week. Many of them are in full bloom now, although there are still some holdouts that haven't started properly yet.

UPDATE: The NPS revised their peak bloom prediction again today. They now expect DC’s cherry blossoms to reach peak bloom between April 5 and 8 (ie. this Thursday to Sunday).

DC Cherry Blossoms in 2021

It seems increasingly likely that DC will still be under COVID-19 restrictions in spring 2021 while the cherry blossoms are blooming. So it's shaping up to be a good year to follow along from afar from the safety and comfort of your home.

The blossoms themselves are shaping up nicely for later in the week. We’ll just have to see how the incoming weather plays out. With luck, it won’t end up being much of a big deal, but there is some risk that the strong winds, especially after rain, might take a toll on the fully blooming trees. Right now they’re looking good and not showing any real signs of becoming fragile just yet (such as dropping petals).

Many of the trees are in full bloom now, but not every tree is fully out yet. There are still plenty to pop open. While the weather over the next few days might not be especially pleasant, it should at least be relatively warm. That will coax more flowers out. There’s a good chance we’ll see peak bloom around Thursday or Friday.

If you head down today you won’t be disappointed–the trees are looking beautiful (there are more photos from this morning below). But take a jacket this morning–it’s a cool breeze.

Weekend Prospects

The trees obviously don’t care what day of the week it is, and it looks increasingly likely that peak bloom will fall towards the end of this work week. But the reality is that many people can only visit on a weekend, so I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers asking about which weekend is best. Here’s a quick state of play. As usual, the further ahead we look the more uncertainty there is, and things can change quickly.

This weekend (April 7-8). In terms of the flowers themselves, this weekend is shaping up nicely. They’ll be in full bloom. But the weather isn’t cooperating. Firstly, there’s unsettled weather expected in the days leading up to the weekend. Heavy rain and strong winds that are expected midweek aren’t helpful as the flowers become fragile after they peak. It’s impossible to predict how much damage the weather will do to the blossoms before the weekend–we just have to wait and see. Hopefully it won’t have much impact. And then once we get to the weekend itself it’s shaping up to be cold and wintry, with some forecasts even saying there might be a decent amount of wet snow.

Next weekend (April 14-15). The way weather conditions are shaping up, the odds are reducing that there’ll be a lot left to see on this weekend, but there’s still very much a chance there might be some flowers left. There’ll be plenty more updates before then so we can see how they’re tracking, so it’s worth checking back.

How Things Look Today

These were all taken early this morning. It was cool, breezy, and very overcast. So not very pretty weather, but the trees make up for it.

From inside the FDR Memorial looking towards the Japanese Pagoda and Tidal Basin in background.

The Japanese Pagoda.

The FDR Memorial.

Another example that’s only partly blooming so far.

The Japanese lantern.


The Maine Ave parking lot (near the paddle boats) is still closed for parking to make way for the Welcome Area. It will remain in place at least through April 15, and there have been adjustments made to the daily schedule:

the welcome area will now temporarily suspend weekday operations after Tuesday, March 27 and then resume daily operations from Saturday April 7 through Sunday, April 15.

You can find the full schedule here.

The special one-way traffic restrictions are in place along Ohio Drive, so you can’t enter down by the John Ericsson Memorial (the Lincoln Memorial end). Instead, you’ll have to do the circuit around the Jefferson Memorial. You can still park there, although during the day midweek you’ll be battling for spaces with all the tour buses bring school groups on spring break and during the weekend there’s a lot of competition for spots. Which makes an argument for using alternative transportation, especially on weekends, but even weekdays this week are shaping up to be very busy.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is on Sunday morning. It doesn’t prevent access to the Tidal Basin, but it can add some logistical challenges to getting to and from there. I’ll have more details in coming days.

Early Bloomers

I’ve been tracking this specific cluster of buds/flowers for a couple of weeks now. At top is this morning’s shot, with the previous ones below for comparison. This tree is by the FDR Memorial.

April 3, 2018.

April 2, 2018.

March 31, 2018.

March 29, 2018.

March 26, 2018.

March 23, 2018.

March 21, 2018.

Videos from the Tidal Basin

I’ve started posting some short video clips from the Tidal Basin showing how things look using the Instagram Stories feature. So if you want an alternative view, you can find them there. I can also post them more quickly, before the more detailed updates post to the website.

You can find the Instagram account at @cherryblossomwatch.

Reader Photos

As usual, I’ll be inviting reader photo submissions again this year. That will open sometime in the next few days. So if you’d like to share a couple of your favorite shots from this year’s bloom, stay tuned in the coming days on how you can submit them. In the meantime, you can see some of them from last year.

Last updated April 4, 2018

View Comments

  • We planning to visit the cherry blossom on 14th April. Any luck, if we could see the flowers or will it be over by the time we come? Kindly advice

    • The main ones will be done and well on their way out. It's possible that there might be some late stragglers to see.

    • Not sure. I suspect that they'll be too fragile over the coming days to put up much defense for the rain and wind, but I can't say for sure whether any flowers will be left on Friday or not. There are other magnolias in the general region that are further behind and should be fine. The ones at the Smithsonian Castle have been a little ahead and have already been dropping petals.

        • There are magnolias all over the region. I don't recall seeing any groups on quite the same scale as the Smithsonian Castle's, but places worth trying would include places like National Arboretum or Dumberton Oaks. They have massive collections of beautiful trees, but not sure about magnolias specifically.