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.
Yesterday didn’t end up being anywhere near as bad as some forecasts had predicted. It wasn’t exactly pleasant–it was cold and overcast and breezy–but it wasn’t bad for the cherry blossoms in the way rain and snow might have been.
Despite a chilly breeze, this morning at the Tidal Basin is quite spectacular. The sunrise wasn’t picture-perfect–there were some low clouds on the horizon–but it didn’t take long for the sun to come out with a beautifully clear blue sky.
The cherry blossoms are looking magnificent. They’re fluffy and full. There are some petals coming down, but so far it’s very few and not impacting the spectacle in any way. If you’re heading down today, you’re in for a treat. You might find one or two other people have the same idea. If you’re going this morning, the road closures for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler are scheduled to be lifted around 11, but this would be an excellent day not to drive unless you like sitting in traffic.
The current weather forecast for the coming week suggests it will be relatively cool and calm for at least the first half, warming up as we head into the weekend. The cool and calm part is good for prolonging the bloom, so prospect are looking good–much better than when rain was in the forecast. Of course, weather forecasts have been known to change, and I’ll naturally be posting regular updates through the week to show how things are going.
You might also hear local news reports saying that today is the last day of peak bloom. That’s based on a misunderstanding of what the NPS’s peak bloom prediction is. If you miss them today, they’ll still be looking beautiful tomorrow and Tuesday, at least, and quite possibly for several days after. So if you’re local, don’t give up if you haven’t seen them yet–you still have a chance.
Want to Share Your Best Photos?
Each year I post a selection of photos submitted by Cherry Blossom Watch Readers. You can see some examples from last year here.
The submissions for this year’s edition are now
open closed. 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.
I’ll be posting the reader photos over the coming week.
This weekend (April 7-8) is the prime cherry blossom viewing weekend. It’s crowded but beautiful.
Weekend of April 14-15. They peaked this past Thursday (April 5). In ideal conditions they can last a week or more beyond that, but the weather has been all over the place lately, so it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. Early forecasts suggested rain at the beginning of the week, but the current forecasts seem to have backed off that and suggest cool and calm condition through midweek, warming up as we get into the weekend. If cool and calm ends up happening, that increases the chances of there still being blossoms to see on the weekend of April 14-15.
There’ll be several more updates before then so we can see how they’re tracking, so it’s worth checking back.
How the Cherry Blossoms Look Today
These were all taken this morning.
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.
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.
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.
Alternative Locations for Cherry Blossoms
The cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin aren’t 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.
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.