Cherry Blossom Watch Update: January 31, 2018

The short version is that there's still not much to report. The cherry trees are still in their winter mode and aren't showing any signs of the buds developing yet. No peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Expect those to start coming in about 4 to 5 weeks.

UPDATE: The National Park Service has announced that their initial peak bloom forecast will be issued on March 1.
DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on April 1, 2019. They're now done for the year.

The short version is that there's still not much to report. The cherry trees are still in their winter mode and aren't showing any visual signs of the buds developing yet. No peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Expect those to start coming in about 4 to 5 weeks.

After a very cold start to the year, temperatures have moderated, and we're now back to tracking right around the average (0.2° below normal for the month, as of this morning). If temperatures continue to be around normal (and that's always a very big "if"), then we'd expect the cherry blossoms to come out close to their historical average around the very end of March into the very beginning of April. If it's significantly warmer than normal, it encourages an earlier bloom. If it's colder, it pushes the bloom later. If you're making travel plans and want more information on the historical averages to help you make a calculated guess, you can find some here.

Long-range weather forecasts this far out have to be taken with a giant grain of salt, but there's some indication that February might be cooler than normal.

The very important caveat is that as we head further into the spring significant deviations from average temperatures can start having more effect. That is, warmer-than-normal temperatures in March matter more than warmer-than-normal temperatures now. So it's still entirely possible for things to change.

How It Looks Today

These photos were taken this morning. As you can see, the Tidal Basin has thawed out since the last update.

The stone structure at the right of frame is Japanese Pagoda that was a gift from the mayor of Yokohama and dates back to around 1600. It's located near the southern end of the FDR Memorial.

The temporary barricades in front of the MLK Memorial have finally (!) been replaced with a much better-looking permanent fence. It's only a short stretch immediate in front of the statue in order to safeguard the crowds that gather there and especially those walking backwards toward the water while trying to take a photo of the statue.

The Tidal Basin is now almost entirely ice-free.

These are some of the oldest of the cherry trees, in a stretch on the northern side between the MLK Memorial and the Japanese Lantern.

Cherry Blossom Festival Call for Volunteers

If you'd like to volunteer to help with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, you can find more information and the registration form on their website.

New Hotels Close to the Cherry Blossoms

If you're coming in from out of town, there are some new options this year for hotels within an easy walk of the Tidal Basin now that The Wharf (a.k.a. Southwest Waterfront) is open for business. There are three brand new hotels there, and they're about half a mile from the Tidal Basin, give or take. I have more on them here.

Next Update

Because there's not much happening right now, there's not much need for frequent updates. But as the trees start waking up in coming weeks and there's more to report, I'll also start posting more frequent updates.

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 4, 2018 7:59 pm

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