Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 16, 2023

Welcome to the 2023 Cherry Blossom Watch!

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Last Updated:

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

2024 Peak Bloom

It's still too early to know precisely when the famous cherry blossoms will bloom around the Tidal Basin in Spring 2024. By early March, we'll start getting a better sense of timing, after we see how temperatures are trending during the latter part of the winter. Warmer temperatures bring an earlier bloom; cooler temperatures push the bloom later.

Welcome to the 2023 Cherry Blossom Watch!

Aside from a couple of very cold but brief Arctic blasts, it has been a mostly warm winter, and all signs so far are pointing to an early bloom. January and the first half of February have averaged much warmer than normal. Some other fruit trees are blooming, the first daffodils are coming out, and the indicator tree has green buds.

That said, there’s still time for cold air to come and settle in the area for a while and bring things to a grinding halt. So it’s not a done deal just yet.

These charts show how the temperatures this winter compare with the historical average. As you can see, we’ve seen consistently warmer temperatures since that very cold snap right around Christmas (and one other shorter, and not quite as cold, cold snap earlier this month).

This first table shows the monthly averages leading up to the peak bloom for the past decade or so. The most important columns are March and February–the temperatures in those months closest to the bloom have the heaviest influence on the timing of the blossoms opening. A very warm early March can bring the bloom forward considerably (or, conversely, a much colder early March can slow things to a crawl).

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2023-24+3.8+2.3+4.2ˤ?
2022-23-1.6+7.7+6.8+1.5ˤMarch 23
2021-22+5.9-2.9+2.6+5.0March 21
2020-21+1.7+2.6-1.2+4.2March 28
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

And here’s how we’re tracking on a day-by-day basis this winter. The red line represents the historical average temperature. The blue line represents the corresponding daily averages for this winter. In other words, above the red line is warmer than normal; below the red line is below average. The data used in this graph are taken from the National Weather Service’s recordings from National Airport, which you can see just across the Potomac from the Tidal Basin.

And here’s a similar but yet slightly different way of looking at it. This shows more directly how far each day has departed from the historical average. The horizontal 0 line represents the historical average. Each vertical bar represents a day. A bar above the 0 line represents warmer than the historical average. A bar below the 0 line represents cooler than the historical average. As you can see, there are so far many more days above the average–and by a good margin–than there are below the average.

How it Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning

There’s not a lot to see on most of the trees just yet. If you look closely, you can find the occasional green buds starting to poke through.

These photos were all taken this morning.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
The MLK Memorial in the distance. Some of the trees along the waterfront to its right are amongst the oldest at the Tidal Basin.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
The MLK Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
The Japanese Lantern.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
The Japanese Pagoda.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin

The Indicator Tree

The indicator tree is a tree just to the east of the Jefferson Memorial that consistently progresses ahead of the others. I have more information on it here.

As of this morning, it has green buds.

These were all taken this morning.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Indicator tree.

Tulip Magnolias

The tulip magnolias are coming along but not yet blooming. These are the trees at the George Mason Memorial today.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
Tulip magnolias at the George Mason Memorial.
Smugmug Start Your Photography Business Ad

Discussion

Leave a Comment