Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 21, 2016

We've had a bit of a mixed bag with the weather, but overall we're still tracking much warmer for the month than last year.

It's definitely a lot warmer now than it has been, but it's a quiet and even slightly dreary morning down at the Tidal Basin. A bald eagle cruises above the water, and there aren't many people out and about. Showers threaten for later.

The Tidal Basin was covered in a thin layer of ice last week, but it has now completely thawed. This time last year it was covered with thick ice that lasted well into March. But we're tracking several degrees warmer so far this year compared with last year.

As you can see in the close-up photos below, the buds are starting to show a little more definition as they continue the early stages of development, but they still have a ways to go.

The past couple of days have started to feel a bit like spring. Yesterday and today we've seen unusually warm temperatures for February. Yesterday saw a lot of people and out and about making the most of it.

But since the last update it has mostly been a pretty typical mixed bag. We had a few inches of snow early in the week (a little more in some places), which got covered with a layer of ice as it turned from snow to rain. But it didn't stick around long. As you can see from the updates from February 18 and February 22 last year and February 20, 2014, it's all pretty normal for this time of year.

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 to just below normal. If the forecast for the rest of the month holds, we'll likely end up a shade under normal 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

Peak Bloom Forecasts

We should start getting the first major peak bloom forecasts in a couple of weeks or so. 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 for the rest of February and March. 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 from This Morning

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.

Last updated February 21, 2016 8:07 pm

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