Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 8, 2015

The cherry blossoms have started to bloom and are looking wonderful. But the weather is much less impressive.

Photo of Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015 taken by David Coleman.
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UPDATE: The NPS arborists judged that 70 percent of the trees had moved into (or through) the “puffy white” stage today. This is the last identified stage before peak bloom.

It's still too early to guess with much confidence when the 2023 bloom will be. But we've seen a much-warmer-than-normal January, and long-range forecasts suggest above-average temperatures continuing as we get deeper into February (after a short very cold spurt at the beginning of the month).

On average, Washington DC's cherry blossoms bloom around late-March into early April, but the precise timing varies year to year depending on the local temperatures in the leadup to the bloom. You can find general information on the 2023 bloom to help plan your visit here.

And they're off! It's as if Mother Nature snapped her fingers and told the trees to get cracking. All of a sudden the cherry blossoms are putting on their show.

Most, but not all, of the trees are now blooming. There's no need to go hunting for the indicator tree anymore–the entire Tidal Basin is ringed with beautiful flowers. They look great today and will get better and better over the next few days.

In the close-up shots below I've tried to show a good representation of the various stages the trees are currently in, and as you can see, some have yet to really get going while others are fully out. There are several varieties of cherry trees in the mix around the Tidal Basin. The most famous ones, the Yoshinos, will start with white flowers that gradually turn pink.

It's been quite the turnaround. Less than a month ago, the Tidal Basin was still frozen over. Even a week ago, the cherry trees's development stages were lagging a week or more behind even last year's late bloom. But over the past week the process has suddenly accelerated, with an unusually quick progression as they've raced through the various stages. It's a reminder of how the trees don't pay much attention to historical averages. Even the indicator tree appears to be less than a week ahead of the others; it's usually a week to ten days ahead.

This morning it's cool and drizzly, but that's also keeping the crowds away. So early this morning we had the place pretty much to ourselves aside from joggers and only the occasional visitor. So, while dreary, it's also very peaceful and pretty in a drizzly and misty kind of way.

The weather is less than ideal for the next few days, with intermittent rain and drizzle. Thunderstorms are expected Friday afternoon, clearing out for a pleasant weekend. If you're planning to head down for sunrise or sunset, I've posted the times here.

If you're choosing between visiting this weekend or next, this weekend (11-12) is shaping up as a much better option. The deeper we get into next week the less there'll probably be to see. I've posted a timeline using photos from past years that should give you and idea of what to expect as we move into and past peak bloom.

The weather forecast for this weekend is looking good. Expect big crowds. And there are two events you should factor into your logistical planning.

Firstly, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade will be held Saturday. It's not actually down at the Tidal Basin, but it will swell the crowds and there'll likely be some flow-on traffic complications as Constitution Avenue is closed.

Secondly, Sunday sees the running of the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. It does actually go around the Tidal Basin–and Hains Point–and there are significant road closings during the morning. You can still access the Tidal Basin by foot–after finding a way to safely cross the road with a stream of oncoming runners–but you won't be able to park along Ohio Drive or around Hains Point during the morning. Road closures will start at 2AM and run through 11:30AM. Expect a ripple effecting lasting beyond that. Here's a map of the road closures [PDF]. By far the best bet will be to walk or use the Metro.

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

Cherry Blossoms - April 8, 2015

65 thoughts on “Cherry Blossom Watch Update: April 8, 2015”

    • While I haven’t counted them myself, it’s apparently just under 1,700 around the Tidal Basin, give or take. Sometimes old, sick trees have to be cut down and sometimes new ones are planted. There are another couple of thousand around East Potomac Park, Hains Point, and the National Mall.

      Reply
  1. We are planning on coming tomorrow Sat 11th. Our main interest is seeing the blossoms and touring the museums. What’s the easiest way to park and travel? We usually stay til after dark to see everything lit up.

    Reply
    • The easiest is to park at once of the suburban metro stations and metro in to Smithsonian stop. Next easiest is to park at a commercial parking garage in the downtown/Foggy Bottom/Union Station areas, but you’ll still have to battle traffic and possibly local road closures to get there. While there are parking areas near the Tidal Basin, traffic will be very heavy and there’ll be a lot of competition for spots. I also suspect that you might find it hard to find a spot there where you can park all day without getting ticketed. I think, but have not confirmed, that parking might be limited to a couple or a few hours around West and East Potomac Parks.

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    • Count on both being very busy. The parade attracts more spectators but the run starts with a built-in 18,000 or so runners.

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  2. Hi David,
    I was thinking about either visiting tomorrow 4/10/ or Wednesday 4/15/15, which day would you recommend? Those are my only day off this week and also there will be a big storm tomorrow.

    Reply
  3. Thank you so much for posting the pictures and having the site updated so frequently. your site is in my favorites and i visit daily! We are coming in this weekend, and cannot wait to see the peak, although I was wishing to see them pink, which is after the peak. Maybe next year….

    Reply
    • You’ll be in luck on two counts. There are other varieties of cherry trees that scattered amongst them that are pink. And the Yoshinos will probably be turning pink at least by Sunday if not before. New photos from this morning coming shortly.

      Reply
  4. I live in the D.C. area and have used your site for the last several years to decide when to make my trip to the Tidal Basin. I just wanted to say thanks for all that you do, from posting pictures to answering questions and giving advice. You’re an amazing resource for both locals and visitors. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  5. Thanks David! Your info and photos are very helpful. I’m planning to go there on Sunday and Monday. Hopefully, it’s not too late šŸ™‚

    Reply
    • If you’re choosing between days, Sunday looks to be a better bet even though it’ll be much more crowded. Monday might be great too, but it’s often safer to stick as close to peak bloom as you can because how quickly the flowers disappear is a bit unpredictable.

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  6. David, thanks for all the fantastic work ! I’ve been following the updates since Feb and thanks to you, it looks like I’ll be in time to watch the peak bloom. šŸ™‚

    Which day, over the weekend, do you think would be better to visit the blossoms at tidal basin? I’m driving from CT and will be in DC only for the weekend(sat-sun). I hope to see a couple of other places in DC since this is going to be my first visit. Iā€™m seeing 2 events happening over the weekend, Iā€™m not sure where to go when.

    Off the record, are there any local restaurants worth a visit for some good food?

    Reply
    • I expect both days to be very good. If I was planning for myself and wanted to play it safe, I’d probably aim for Saturday. That said, I fully expect Sunday to be great too, and once you’re on the National Mall it’s so convenient to get down to the Tidal Basin that more than one visit is entirely feasible. It’s entirely possible that Monday and Tuesday will look beautiful. But the whole process has been speeded up over the past week, so it’s anyone’s guess how quickly the flowers will disappear and it can change quickly day-to-day. On either day, getting around with a combination of Metro and walking is your best bet. There’s a week’s-worth of things to see just around the National Mall and downtown area, so most first-time visitors (and even repeat visitors) spend the bulk of their time there. And once you eliminate traffic worries, getting around is easy. DC is very well geared to handling large numbers of people for events, so I wouldn’t let that aspect put you off unless you’re driving downtown.

      As for restaurants, DC is lucky to have a huge number of excellent dining options to accommodate a broad spectrum of cuisines, budgets, and tastes. Perhaps some other locals might be able to weigh in with their favorites here. Otherwise, the Washington Post has some excellent resources on dining options here.

      Reply
  7. Hi David! Thank you so much for posting the updates and your beautiful photos! I have been checking your site every day. We are coming to D.C. this Saturday and hope to experience the peak. We will be driving from Connecticut and our hotel is in Springfield, VA but we thought of stopping on our way to see the cherry blossoms. I understand that it will be very hard to find a parking space, so I was wondering if you could suggest where we park, so that we could take the metro to the Smithsonian Station and walk from there. We expect to get to D.C. around 11am. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • You might well find a spot–you just might spend a while finding it and you might have a bit of a walk. But there’s also a free shuttle circulating around Hains Point/East Potomac Park that will drop you at the Tidal Basin. A relatively straightforward but not cheap option is to park at Union Station and metro (or walk) across. There are also other paid lots throughout the downtown area. Many of the suburban metro stops also have commuter parking, including Franconia-Springield station. There’s a medium-sized parking lot at Arlington National Cemetery, which is convenient but can fill up. Not much further away, Pentagon City shopping mall has large paid parking lots and there’s a metro stop across the street and relatively clean shot from there down 395 to Springfield afterwards. If you end up using the yellow metro line, it can be easier to get off at L’Enfant Plaza rather than changing trains just to get to Smithsonian–it’s only a couple of blocks further from the Tidal Basin.

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      • Thank you so much! Very useful information indeed. Thank you for taking the time to respond and to keep all of us informed.

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  8. Hi David, Thanks a ton for your timely information, this helps a lot. Can you please suggest me, which times will be good to visit, is it morning or in the evenings?

    Reply
    • Both are very good, with very different atmospheres. The busiest part of the day tends to start around mid-morning and goes through the afternoon. My personal favorite time to be there is right after sunrise, especially if it’s a clear morning. But you can’t really go wrong.

      Reply
  9. I am a regular resident here and have been following your site religiously. I was just there on Monday morning/afternoon and guessed it to be around Sunday – even the NPS people agreed with me. It’s just absolutely nuts that it has happened in the last 36 hours! Begging the rain to not be so cruel and ruin these early!

    Reply
    • Yes, every conversation I’ve had with NPS folks down there over the past couple of weeks suggested to me that they didn’t expect things to come on this suddenly either. That said, they also haven’t budged from their original forecast even when it was looking like it might fall behind. So maybe they’ve known all along!

      Reply
  10. Hi David, I’m really digging your updates. You wouldn’t anticipate a huge drop off between the weekend and say Monday, would you?

    Reply
    • This isn’t much of an answer, but I really don’t know. My caution is in part because last year they disappeared more suddenly than I expected. They reached peak bloom on the Thursday and were looking glorious all through the weekend. Here’s how they looked on the Sunday (again, I’m talking about 2014 here). By the Tuesday they were pretty much gone. In a “normal” year I’d expect them to hang around at least an extra day longer than that. Rain, wind, and storms also throw uncertainty into the mix. So as wishy-washy as it is, my answer is a strong maybe.

      Reply
  11. We are planning to visit this Friday, what is the best time to get full blossoms Saturday/Sunday?I wanna capture some good memories with my family out there.

    Reply
    • You shouldn’t be disappointed any of those days. Friday’s weather forecast isn’t great, but it improves for the weekend. There will be crowds on the weekend as well as the other complications I mentioned above, but the area can take a lot of people quite comfortably. Of course, if you really want to cover your bases, two visits at different times of the day/evening will show them in quite different lights.

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  12. Thanks for the update. We had changed our hotel booking twice base on your update. Finally, my family will be there this Friday. This is GREAT site. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  13. We’re planning a trip up the 19th, sounds like we’ll miss the most popular cherry blossoms. Is there a chance they chould last? What other cherry blossoms will be blooming when we get there? I’ve heard there are some varieties that bloom later around the Arlington cemetery?

    Reply
    • The Kwanzans are especially beautiful and there are groves nearby. I’ve been meaning to give them their own page, but in the meantime I have information on how to find them from last year here. And yes, there are all sorts of cherry and other fruit trees through the region and some of them are on slightly different schedules. Some are in unlikely places–like the median strip of I-66–but others are in more scenic areas like around Arlington Cemetery.

      Reply
  14. Thanks! Looks amazing, this is by far the best place for blossom information. What day would you expect ‘full bloom’ to be?

    Reply
    • Weather aside, if you go anytime now through the weekend you won’t be disappointed. Beyond that, things get dicier (and harder to predict) as we head deeper into next week. As far as the technical determination of when we’ve reached peak bloom (ie. 70% of the trees in full bloom), I’ll leave that to the experts at the NPS.

      Reply
  15. Thanks for all the updates.

    We are planning DC to reach by Apr 16th. What are the chances ? Show will be over by that time ? Please advise.

    Reply
    • Hard to say, I’m afraid. Even if most of the flowers are well on their way out, there are often stragglers to find scattered about. Each day further beyond peak bloom the fewer there are. If you haven’t seen it already, this post gives some idea of what to expect as we move through and past the bloom.

      Reply
  16. Thanks for the update and beautiful photo shoots. I’ve been tracking your update for about a month, glad to see cherry start blooming. Really appreciate that!
    We have booked flight to DC Sunday morning and will stay around for a couple of days. Hope to see the beautiful flowers. Finger crossed!

    Reply
  17. David, amazing pictures and updates. We will be coming over this weekend and your tips have helped us plan the visit quite well. Saving time and money.

    Reply
  18. Thank you for your daily update! I just passed by DC days ago but has no chance to see such beautiful scene at Tidal Basin. I think I will be back!

    Reply
  19. Thank you David for keeping track of the Cherry Blossom, this has been great help on planning my trip to DC. I am planning to be there Saturday, hope the thunderstorm doesn’t leave the tree naked.

    Reply
  20. Beautiful work ! I love it all ! šŸ™‚ Thanks for the update !
    I’m hoping to travel to DC this weekend with my camera šŸ™‚

    Reply
  21. Thanks a lot David.
    We have been tracking your website for last 1 month… almost more than twice daily.We have hotels booked in DC for this Saturday, which are non-refundable…
    We also invited some family members from India especially during this season, so that, we can start off the US trip with beautiful Washington DC.
    I am very happy that the Cherry Blossoms are finally on…
    Thanks a ton again for your updates..

    Reply
  22. Thank you for all of your wonderful updates and photos! I follow it daily and plan to be there Sunday, but watching it unfold through your photos has been a gift!

    Reply
  23. Thanks for the update and as always beautiful shot. Greatly appreciate your work.Can you please let me know the free parking lots near tidal basin?

    Reply
    • All of the spots around Ohio Drive in West Potomac Park and East Potomac Park (Hains Point) are free. There are three small lots, just known as A, B, and C, in the shadow of the 14th Street Bridge behind the George Mason Memorial. Once you arrive, there are clear signs directing you to parking areas, so you can’t really go wrong. The whole area will be closed to road traffic and parking Sunday morning for the race.

      Reply
  24. Could the thunderstorm on Friday possibly make the petals fall off? Were planning to go early saturday but just wondering if the weather will affect the trees?

    Reply
    • Rain, wind, and storms can and do knock petals off once they’re flowering–and there were some widely scattered petals on the ground in places this morning from last night’s rain–but there are so many flowers to start with that it should still be beautiful. It’s not something that would dissuade me from going.

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      • Thanks so much! I check your blog every year to see where the blossoms are at its so helpful! Thanks for blogging!! and your pictures are beautiful!

        Reply

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