Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 4, 2018

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).

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 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.

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. 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.

The Japanese Pagoda.

One of the slower trees that hasn’t yet fully bloomed.

A path leading into the FDR Memorial.

April 4, 2018.

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.

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 4, 2018.

April 3, 2018.

April 2, 2018.

March 31, 2018.

March 29, 2018.

March 26, 2018.

March 23, 2018.

March 21, 2018.

For Photographers

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.

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

  • Hey thanks for the update! Any word from NPS or from your own observations about the Kwanzan? We are arranging a photo shoot for next weekend and wondering if there's any sense they'll at all be in bloom by then in case Yoshino are gone by then?

    • There's not much to see yet--I posted a few photos of them a couple of days ago here. Will try to remember to check in with them tomorrow and include in the update.