Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 6, 2015

There's been quite a bit of progress since the last update, with the warmer temperatures moving the process along nicely.

UPDATE: The National Park Service announced this afternoon that its arborists judged that 70 percent of the cherry trees have reached “peduncle elongation” phase, going in near-record time from the “florets visible” on April 1 to “extension of florets” on April 4 to “peduncle elongation” on April 6. It’s an unusually quick progression, with the only time in the past decade or so when it went even more quickly being in 2006. The historical average suggests about 6-10 days from “peduncle elongation” to peak bloom, although the recent pace suggests it probably won’t be on the long end of that window.

There’s been quite a lot of progress since the last update, and things are humming along nicely now. While most of the trees are not yet blooming, you can find some scattered blossoms if you go looking for them. The indicator tree is blooming with its white flowers. Over the next days more and more flowers will be coming out.

The Ohio Drive traffic restrictions are now in force, so there’s one way traffic along West Potomac Park and the entrance near the Lincoln Memorial is blocked off (you can still exit there). And there are a lot more people around now, so finding parking spots is getting more competitive.

Spring weather doesn’t get much better than this today. Lots of sunshine, very pleasant temperatures, and only a hint of breeze (for now, but picking up later). The forecast for the rest of the week is more of a mixed bag.

Indicator Tree

The so-called indicator tree, which typically blooms a week to ten days ahead of most of the other trees, is now blooming with white flowers. If you’re looking for it in person, here’s how to find it.

Tulip Magnolias

The tulip magnolias next to the George Mason Memorial are blooming.

Forecasts & Schedule

There haven’t been any changes to the forecasts thus far. You can find the latest forecasts here.

The NPS arborists judged that 70 percent of the cherry blossoms reached their “florets visible” stage on April 1. The historical average suggests that that occurs about 16-21 days before peak bloom. In 2014, it happened on March 23 and ended up being 18 days before a peak bloom of April 10. In 2013, it came on March 17 and ended up being 23 days before a peak bloom on April 9. Based on the progress of the past few days, though, we might well see a much lower-than-average time this year between florets visible and peak bloom.

Last updated January 14, 2016

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  • Thank you very much for the updates. So glad that we finally decided to drive from Florida on tuesday morning to DC unsure of the weather and how much we would see . To our surprise... the blooming cherry blossom trees greeted us.We couldn't believe it.Absolutely gorgeous! It was all worth it!

  • Hi, we really want to go to see the cherry blossoms but can't go on 4/11 and 4/12. We can only go on 4/18 and 4/19. How long do the flowers stay open until? if we get there on 4/18, are they still around?

    • We still don't know when exactly the peak bloom day will be, but the further you get from it the less there is to see. You can get a sense of what to expect from these photos from past years. There are also other varieties of cherry trees nearby that bloom later than the others and might be coming into bloom around then.

  • I just moved to Alexandria and have been doing the whole tourist thing, and I've got plans to visit the Tidal Basin this Saturday evening. Have greatly appreciated your blog and your gorgeous pictures. I'm looking forward to some very pretty views and a lovely evening stroll in such a beautiful area.

    Thanks for all your detailed, hard work on this! You are an invaluable source for tourists and newbies who want to enjoy this lovely natural gift.

  • what are your thoughts for April 15th? will the Tidal Basin be super crowded still if it is past the peak? At 10AM? are there large crowds at the Jefferson Monument? I am hoping to do a photo shot with my daughter that day with blossoms in the background and the Jefferson Monument.


    • Well, crowds are relative. It's unlikely to be as crowded as it will be this weekend, but at this time of year you can always expect people around. But there are a lot of ways you can get a nice shot even with a lot of people around, so there shouldn't be a problem in that respect. It's a long stretch of waterfront, so you can wander until you find a good spot.

  • Thank you for your regular updates! I've been continuously checking your site ever since I made plans to visit DC from April 9-12, specifically for the sakura peak bloom! I hope the flowers in Tidal Basin will grace us with their gorgeous presence by then! I'll be checking everyday now that it's only a few days away. I'm excited!

    • You're welcome. You're going to like what you hear in this morning's update, then. Stay tuned...

  • David, flew in yesterday for biz and was able to walk the basin shortly after you took your photos. As an out of towner, your work is very much appreciated. You have helped me plan and know what to look for, even though my last chance to see what I can will be tomorrow morning.
    You have been instrumental helping people like me know where to look and what I will get to see.
    Thank you for your efforts putting this site together.

  • David, I was just wondering with the recent warmth that we've been getting from mother nature. Do you think the cherry blossoms will be at or near peak on Friday, even with the chilly and damp weather were expecting?

    • They're certainly heading in the right direction at last. I plan to post another update in the morning that should help give a better idea of how things are shaping up for later this week and the weekend.

  • Hi
    I am planning to visit April 12.Do you think this is a good time to view the blossoms and will most of the flowers bloom by then?

    • So far it's looking pretty good. Stay tuned for another update in the morning to give a better idea of how they're shaping up as we head towards the weekend.

  • We have a planned trip to Washington from April 22-27 do you think we will still be able to catch some of the blossoms?

    • That's likely to miss most of them. It's possible there might still be the occasional straggler tree. There are, however, other varieties of cherry trees nearby that bloom a little later and will probably be coming out around then. The section on this post from last year on the Kawanzan cherry blossoms might be of interest and shows where to find them.

  • Thank you, David, for your awesome updates. I am just finishing my visit to DC today. It was fun to see your photos from yesterday and how they represented the gorgeous day that it was. I took pictures of the blooming tree without realizing that is the indicator tree until seeing your post. I will continue to track your site from home in Minneapolis to be able to see peak. I hope you continue to provide these updates in years to come. They are incredibly helpful for us out of towners planning visits or living vicariously. Many thanks!