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 National Park Service said that the cherry blossoms hit peak bloom yesterday (April 5). Peak bloom is when 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom.
So what happens now? Firstly, you can still enjoy them for at least a few days, perhaps longer. As they turn pink in the next few days they can look even prettier. How long they stay around depends a lot on the weather. And right now, the weather isn’t being very cooperative.
The problem is that as the flowers move beyond peak they start becoming more fragile. In ideal conditions (cool, calm, dry) they can hang around for a week or more. In less than ideal conditions (rainy, windy, stormy, warm) they can be chased away sooner, perhaps in as little as 3-5 days. You can get some sense of what to expect, and the large variation, from this photo timeline.
Right now, the weather forecasts aren’t for ideal conditions, but as usual we’ll just have to see how things actually play out. The forecasts for snow tomorrow have toned down somewhat. The forecasts vary, but the common gist appears to be light rain and potentially a small amount of wet snow. It’s the light rain part that’s key–light rain should pose much less of an issue than heavy rain. Tomorrow’s update will come a little later than normal so that we can see the effects of the weather.
The reader photos submissions are now open. If you’d like to share some of your best shots of this year’s cherry blossoms, you can find more information as the submission form further down this page. And you can see some examples from last year here.
This weekend will be the prime cherry blossom viewing weekend. Expect big crowds. You’ll have to dodge the weather on Saturday and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on Sunday.
Next weekend (April 14-15). They peaked yesterday (April 5). In ideal conditions they can last a week or more beyond that, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting ideal weather conditions. It’s certainly possible there’ll still be flowers out to on the weekend of April 14-15, but the odds are leaning against it.
There’ll be plenty more updates before then so we can see how they’re tracking, so it’s worth checking back.
The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin are not the only cherry blossoms in town, and if you miss the ones there by a few days you might have more luck at some of the alternative locations nearby. The ones I’ve seen elsewhere in town have been behind the ones at the Tidal Basin, so if you’re coming into town next week or next weekend, you still might be able to catch cherry blossoms elsewhere around town. You can find some suggestions here.
How Things Look Today
The weather is dull and kind of dreary, but the trees are looking beautiful.
Logistics: Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler is on Sunday morning. It typically sees about 20,000 or so runners and the course goes on the roads all around the Tidal Basin area and up around Hains Point.
The race doesn’t prevent access to the Tidal Basin, and you can still access the cherry blossoms on foot during the race. But it adds some logistical challenges to getting to and from there.
For one, there are significant road closures in the neighborhood of the Tidal Basin throughout Sunday morning. You won’t be able to park anywhere along Ohio Drive or Lots A, B, and C (or get to them in the first place).
Here’s a map of the road closures for this year’s race:
Metro will be the best way to get around downtown and then walking to the Tidal Basin.
For another, even when walking you might run into delays if you’re trying to cross the course. And please do be careful. There will be a lot of runners, many of whom have enough to contend with without trying to dodge pedestrians darting across in front of them.
The roads around the Tidal Basin are scheduled to reopen at 11am. You can expect traffic bottlenecks to last well beyond that as cherry blossom traffic picks up.
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.
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.
One other thing worth noting if you plan to park in Lots A, B, and C is that the NPS has changed the traffic flow a little. You used to access these by going past the Jefferson Memorial and turning left at the T-intersection at the George Mason Memorial. But that left turn is now blocked off. Instead, to access Lots A, B, and C, you have to turn left before the Jefferson Memorial and go the long way around. You can follow the signs to parking. Once you go past the Jefferson Memorial you have no option but to continue right, down past the FDR Memorial.
Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms
The buds have been making some progress, but they still have a way to go.
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.
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.
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.