Cherry Blossom Watch Update: December 30, 2015

I've had a number of people ask whether the cherry blossoms are blooming early because of the warm weather. So I decided it was worth a visit to the Tidal Basin for some new photos.

It hasn’t felt much like winter lately. It’s not often you can go outside around here in late-December in a t-shirt. But we’ve had an unusually warm and wet spell of record-breaking winter heat.

I’ve had a number of people ask whether the cherry blossoms are blooming early because of the warm weather. So I decided it was worth a visit to the Tidal Basin for some new photos.

The short answer is: No, they’re not.

But it’s not quite that simple. There have been cherry trees blooming recently on the National Mall. They’re a variety that blooms in the fall, and there are a handful scattered among the thousands of cherry trees of other varieties around the National Mall and Tidal Basin area. They were blooming in November and well into December. The Washington Post has more on them here. But the vast majority of the cherry trees still have a long way to go before they bloom in the spring, as you can see from the photos below.

The warm weather has also thrown off some of the other local plants, with some a bit confused about whether it’s winter or spring. You can even find a lot of daffodils sprouting (though not flowering), which is pretty early in the season for them.

It’s still too early to say whether the warm December will have much or any effect in bringing about an early peak bloom. There’s still a lot of winter to ride out. Even last year the early part of the winter was unremarkable, but that gave way to a very cold January, February, and March, that pushed the peak bloom back to well after the historical average. So, for now, we’re still in wait-and-see mode.


These were all taken this morning.

360° Virtual Tours

You can spin these around to get a 360° perspective in amongst the trees.

The Banks of the Tidal Basin

The water level fluctuates because the Tidal Basin is, well, tidal. And in some sections, that means that the water level regularly overflows. Within the past few years a new retaining wall was built around the Jefferson Memorial, and that part’s looking great and is high and dry.

But the section from the Jefferson Memorial around to the FDR Memorial isn’t looking its best. The heavy and consistent rain we’ve had lately hasn’t helped, with a lot of trash washed up on the southern bank. The shots below were taken as the high tide reached its peak.

Repairs to Kutz Bridge

One new development this year relevant to visitors to the see the cherry blossoms is that the pedestrian sidewalk along Kutz Bridge has been upgraded.

The bridge links the east and west banks of the Tidal Basin, and the sidewalk upgrade, which includes the installation of a new guardrail, is part of a larger project that also includes improvements to the road surface, stone masonry work on the bridge piers, and some structural repairs underneath.

Last updated February 10, 2016

View Comments

  • I already booked my ticket going to DC (from South East Asia) for the first week of April, and I'm also checking this page for an update. :) it's very helpful!

  • Thank you so much for this update. I am literally planning my DC trip from Miami to see the cherry blossoms and I have checked daily for an update. I should be buying my ticket sometime before mid-January so I really hope you provide an update by then. Thanks again!! :D

    • I'll try to get down there sometime before mid-January, but honestly I don't think I'll have much in the way of an update by then. The weather forecast is for temperatures to turn colder--more towards normal--and there won't be any real visual change in the trees to go by. But stay tuned!