It's still too early to guess with any confidence when DC's cherry blossoms will bloom in 2020, and no peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Stay tuned for the first peak bloom forecasts to be announced around the beginning of March.
The winter so far has been much warmer than normal. January and February have both tracked well above average. If that continues--and that's always a big "if"--it points to an earlier-than-average bloom, more late-March than early-April. But there's still plenty of time for cold weather to arrive and settle in, so it's still too early to predict with confidence.
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom now. While not every tree is fully out, most are. They’re on track for peak bloom in the coming days, and the National Park Service yesterday tweaked their peak bloom prediction again, bringing it forward to Thursday through Sunday (April 5-8).
The threat of thunderstorms this morning hasn’t materialized (yet), and the rain hasn’t been much at all (so far). But strong winds are expected later today. Warmer temperatures today and Friday will help coax more flowers out.
There’s a small number of trees that are still blooming but moving past their prime now. With their petals becoming more fragile, they’re the ones most vulnerable to the wind. Most of the trees are still looking strong, and there’s not much sign of petals coming off yet. So there’s reason to be optimistic that the wind won’t take too much of a toll.
All in all, it’s shaping up beautifully for the weekend. Except for the weather, that is.
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. And, indeed, the trees are looking stunning right now. 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–or at least more rain (but not as much snow as some automated weather apps are apparently predicting).
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’s warmer today and was beautifully still early this morning even if the clouds still don’t make for very pretty lighting.
Monuments of the Tidal Basin
As you wander around the Tidal Basin you’ll come across a number of monuments and memorials. Some are pretty obvious; some are less so. I’ve put together a quick guide to the ones you might come across as you walk around:
I’ve put together some more detailed information in posts on how to get there and where to park:
If you’re visiting with kids, this might be helpful:
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.
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.
A quick reminder that the Tidal Basin (and anywhere near downtown DC, for that matter) is a no drone zone.
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.
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.
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.