Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 14, 2016

It's bitterly cold out, but it's a sparkling clear winter morning at the Tidal Basin.

It’s a little chilly this morning. Despite the bitter cold, it’s a sparkling winter morning down here at the Tidal Basin.

The breeze is only light, but the wind chill is hard to ignore. There are a few brave runners out and some dedicated soccer players on the fields nearby. But the ones I can’t help feel sorry for are the school groups on tour. The tour busses are starting to turn up more frequently now, and there were several groups down there this morning walking around the FDR and MLK memorials. Too many of the kids, and more than a few of the teachers and chaperones, simply weren’t geared up properly for cold weather like this. Some didn’t have gloves or hats or even proper coats.

The Tidal Basin is mostly frozen over, but the ice is only thin, and the geese have found the occasional break in the ice where they can seek refuge in the relative warmth of the water. As cold as the water is, it’s still about 20° warmer than the air.

There’s still not much to see on the trees themselves, as you can see in the close-up photos below. If you compare them to photos I posted around this time last year, the conditions look remarkably similar. We’re expecting some snow/rain/sleet and wintry weather over the next few days. This time last year, we also got a few inches of snow–you can see those photos from February 18, 2015, here.

Here’s how we’re tracking so far for monthly average temperatures. We had a warm start to February, but now that we’re halfway through the month, the recent cold snap has dragged the in-progress monthly average down back to precisely the average for the month.

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2018-19+3.8+1.2+3.2+0.0April 1
2017-18-0.5-0.3+6.3-3.2April 5
2016-17+2.1+6.1+8.7-0.7*March 25
2015-16+11.5-1.1+0.9+6.5*March 25
2014-15+4.0-0.4-8.7-1.5April 10
2013-14+2.6-3.8-1.2-3.9April 10
2012-13+5.9+4.3-0.7-3.0April 9
2011-12+4.9+4.7+5.3+10March 20
2010-11--1.3+3.6-0.9March 29
Data sources: National Weather Service / National Park Service.
ˤ = partial month, in progress
* = up until peak bloom

We should start getting the first major peak bloom forecasts in 2 to 3 weeks. The experts will be taking a look at how the trees are looking, how the winter has shaped up thus far, and the long-range weather forecasts over the next 6-8 weeks. Sometime around early March they should put out their first prediction for the season. Sometimes those first forecasts stick–as they did last year–and sometimes they get revised as we get closer to the date. As always, you can find the latest information on the 2016 peak bloom forecasts page.

Photos

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.

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