Welcome to 2018 DC Cherry Blossom Watch!
It’s still too early to tell when the cherry blossoms will reach peak bloom this year, but here’s a quick rundown of where we’re at.
The average date for peak bloom is around the beginning of April, but it can shift up to a couple of weeks before or after that depending on the weather. Warm temperatures coax an early bloom, while cold temperatures delay the process.
After a pretty ordinary start to the winter, we’ve recently emerged from an extended cold spell that took temperatures well below normal. They’ve moderated now–and today reached positively balmy temperatures in the 50s–but as of this morning, January is still tracking at about 6.3° below normal for the month. As you can see from the
But itself, the cold stretch isn’t enough to tell us that the bloom will be early; the trees are in their standard winter dormant state, anyway. So we’ll still need to wait and see how the coming weeks shape up; the temperatures into March are far more important.
Long-range weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable, of course, but as of right now there’s doesn’t seem to be much suggestion of either sustained unseasonably cold or unseasonably hot temperatures in the coming weeks. In other words, as of now, we appear to be tracking roughly around average. Put another way, there’s not much to indicate at the moment that the bloom will be either early or late. Obviously, that could change.
How Does it Look Today?
The shot at the top of the page was taken this morning. The Tidal Basin is covered in ice and the cherry trees are hunkered down for the winter. There’s nothing really to see yet in terms of bud development.
This is another shot from this morning:
2018 Peak Bloom Forecasts
None has been issued yet. The two to watch, by the National Park Service and the Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang, are typically issued sometime around the first week of March.
As always, I’ll keep the peak bloom forecasts page updated as we head into the bloom.
What’s New for 2018?
This isn’t going to be a pressing issue for most people right now, but I may as well give a heads up on it. All of the free parking around the Tidal Basin (and much of the National Mall, for that matter) isn’t free anymore. It has been converted to metered parking with time limits ranging from 2 to 3 hours. This applies to all the street parking lining Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin and the three lots (A, B, C) under the foot of the Fourteenth Street Bridge. I have more detailed information on the parking situation here.
Winter Cherry Blossoms
If you’re desperate for at least some cherry blossoms, you might catch some of a different variety with some scattered flowers. There are quite a few of these trees around the base of the Washington Monument, although their fall/winter bloom is nowhere near as impressive as the spring bloom.
Here’s an example I shot in early December:
I have more about these fall/winter blooming cherry blossoms here.
2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival Dates
The 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled to run from March 20 through April 15. There are a number of events and activities planned for that period, including the Blossom Kite Festival (March 31) and the the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (April 14).
You can find more details on the official festival website.
New Graphic for 2018
Finally, a thank you to Joe Brooks for creating the new 2018 graphic on the front page. You can find more of her wonderful work on her website.
How to Get Updates on the 2018 Cherry Blossoms
There are several ways to keep up to date with Cherry Blossom Watch updates.
CherryBlossomWatch.com This website is Cherry Blossom Watch HQ. New updates post here first. They're also more details and include more current photos than the other options. So be sure to bookmark and check back often. If you'd like to receive instant automatic notifications directly from the website when new updates are posted, take a look at the browser notification option below.
Instagram. Follow the dedicated Instagram feed at @cherryblossomwatch. The posts are usually shorter and less detailed, but they include freshly taken photos and post more quickly.
Facebook. Follow the Cherry Blossom Watch Facebook page. This is a good way to know when new updates are posted on the website, but because of the way Facebook's newsfeed algorithm works, there's no guarantee that every update will show up in your feed.
Email Newsletter. To the right of the page (or bottom, if you're using a mobile device) you can find a signup form for the 2018 cherry blossom watch email newsletter. This is sent out as a digest of the latest updates every week or so when new updates have been posted.
Browser Notifications. On desktop web browsers you can click on the red bell icon at the bottom right of the screen to sign up for push notifications. When new updates are posted you'll get a notification automatically right in your browser. Works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox only, for now.
RSS. RSS feed
Cherry Blossom Visitor Guides
Planning on visiting DC to see the cherry blossoms? The uncertainty with predicting when the bloom will take place certainly makes things hard, but I've put together some information to help you make an educated guess to maximize your chances.
And if you're coming into town for the events of the cherry blossom festival or just for the flowers, I've also put together some ideas on where to stay and how to get to the cherry blossoms once you're here.
Washington DC Visitor Guides
If you're coming in from out of town, here are some useful travel guidebooks that can help you make the most of your visit. Because as stunning as the cherry blossoms are, there's an awful lot more to do and see in DC.
These are some of the most popular ones. Many of these are available as both traditional books and e-books that you can read on your phone or tablet.
- DK Travel
- Publisher: DK Eyewitness Travel
- Fodor s Washington D C with Mount Vernon Alexandria Annapolis Full color Travel Guide
- Fodor's Travel Guides
- Lonely Planet Washington DC
- Lonely Planet, Karla Zimmerman, Regis St Louis
- Elise Hartman Ford
- Publisher: FrommerMedia
- DK Travel
- Publisher: DK Eyewitness Travel
And here are some interesting options for less traditional guidesbooks if you'd like an emphasis on exploring DC on foot or diving into some of the region's very rich history.
- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
- Barbara Noe Kennedy
- A History Lover s Guide to Washington D C Designed for Democracy
- Alison Fortier
Books on DC's Cherry Blossoms
If you're looking for books specifically on DC's cherry blossoms for yourself or as a gift, these two are my favorites.
- Ann McClellan
- Publisher: National Geographic