Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 15, 2020

Welcome to the 2020 DC Cherry Blossom Watch! It's a cold and crisp morning, a sharp break from the warm and rainy weather we've had lately.

DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on March 20, 2020. They're now done for the year.

Welcome to the 2020 DC Cherry Blossom Watch!

We’re a couple of weeks away from when we can expect the first peak bloom forecasts to be issued. For now, the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin are still wrapped tightly with their winter buds. But pretty soon, we’ll be able to see more visual progress as they continue waking from their winter dormancy and progressing through to cherry blossoms.

It’s cold and crisp this morning, but that has definitely been the exception so far this winter. It has been consistently warmer than average. You can see the pattern from this graph, which shows the daily averages this winter (in blue) compared with the historical daily averages (in red).

Another way to look at it is with the monthly averages. This is how we’re tracking compared with previous years.

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2019-20+2.4+6.4+4.8+7.3*March 20
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

Around town, some of the very earliest spring flowers are starting to pop, and the daffodils aren’t far away. The saucer magnolias aren’t flowering yet, but the buds are well on their way (you can see some photos of them below).

If I had to make a guess right now, I’d have to say it’s shaping up for an early bloom. That said, I’ve also seen how warm winters can be followed by very cold springs that slow things down dramatically—we’ve had some good examples of that in recent years. So without the benefit of reliable long-range weather forecasts looking ahead deep into March, I wouldn’t put much stock in my guesses just yet. But another hint that we’re in for an early one is that spring has come weeks early in the South.

This Morning at the Tidal Basin

Here are some shots taken at the Tidal Basin this morning. It’s cold and icy (from the leftover puddles from all the rain we’ve had lately), and not feeling very springlike. But it is possible, if you really go looking, to find some early green buds just barely starting to poke through.

Some of the earliest buds just starting to poke through with some green. Most are not this far along.

The Japanese Pagoda along the western side of the Tidal Basin.

Saucer Magnolias

The saucer magnolias, or tulip magnolias, are also quite the spectacle and come out a bit earlier than the cherry blossoms. This is how the ones at the George Mason Memorial were looking this morning.

Saucer magnolias (or tulip magnolias) at the George Mason Memorial on the southwestern corner of the Tidal Basin, not far from the Jefferson Memorial.

Saucer magnolias (or tulip magnolias) at the George Mason Memorial on the southwestern corner of the Tidal Basin, not far from the Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial Renovations

If you were hoping to get some sunrise photos of the Jefferson Memorial this spring, you might end up a bit disappointed. The memorial’s exterior is covered in scaffolding as part of a major restoration of the domed roof.

Inside, the main chamber is free of scaffolding and open as normal, although there’s scaffolding in the interior portico area at the top of the steps.

Completion was scheduled for May 2020, although I’m not sure whether work is still on track to meet that.

Here’s how it’s looking this morning.

Last updated February 15, 2020

View Comments

  • Good day, please advise how late in the season the cherry blossoms may be in bloom.

    Thank you in advance

    • It all depends on when they reach peak bloom. They're typically out for a week or two after that. I have a visual timeline of what you can expect after the peak bloom date here. There's another variety that blooms a couple of weeks after the most famous ones. They're known as the Kwanzan cherry blossoms, and there's more information about them here.

  • Hi David
    Happy to talk you again
    Do you know when was the most early cherry blossom peak bloom?
    I can see that this winter was the most warmer in several decades
    can we expect a more early cherry blossom ( before 20 march )?

    thanks a lot

  • We’ve tried 3 times to see the full blooming Yoshino cherry trees. This time we will come with no reservations - a quick road trip from South Carolina. Can’t wait!

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