Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 1, 2018

Around the Tidal Basin, the buds are clearly making progress. And, as usual, the so-called indicator tree is marching ahead of the others. It's typically a week to 10 days ahead. Stay tuned for the National Park Service peak bloom prediction to be issued later this morning.

The National Park Service has announced their peak bloom prediction: March 17-20. That would make for a very early bloom. You can find more information, including explanations of what it means and what to expect, here.

DC Cherry Blossoms in 2021

It seems increasingly likely that DC will still be under COVID-19 restrictions in spring 2021 while the cherry blossoms are blooming. So it's shaping up to be a good year to follow along from afar from the safety and comfort of your home.

Around the Tidal Basin this morning, the buds are clearly making progress. And, as usual, the so-called indicator tree is marching ahead of the others. It’s typically a week to 10 days ahead.

Stay tuned for the National Park Service’s peak bloom prediction to be announced at a press conference later this morning. I’ll post an update when they announce it, and you can of course always find the latest predictions on the peak bloom page.

The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang prediction is March 23-27.

Peak Bloom Forecasts

The National Park Service will be announcing their peak bloom forecast later this morning.

The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang posted their own peak bloom prediction a few days ago. They’re predicting that peak bloom will come “during the window between March 23 and 27 this year, centered on the 25th.”

As always, you can check in with the peak bloom page to get the latest forecasts.

Temperatures So Far

February closed out 6.3 degrees above average. That’s what has helped the cherry blossoms, along with the area’s other flowers, get a jump start on spring.

Here’s how we’ve been tracking for the winter compared with the previous few 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

Photos from This Morning

Here are some photos taken around the Tidal Basin this morning.

The George Mason Memorial. There some renovation work being done at this memorial, but so far it’s off to the side.

The Japanese Pagoda.

Indicator Tree

The so-called indicator tree is one that is consistently about a week to 10 days ahead of the others. I have more information in it, including on how to find it, here.

This time last year it was already blooming. Here’s how it was looking this morning.

The indicator tree is, as usual, ahead of the others.

Indicator Tree.

Travel Logistics


If you’re coming from out of town, I’ve put together some suggestions on where to stay.

March for Our Lives Rally

The March for Our Lives rally on gun control is scheduled for March 24, 2018. That coincides with the first week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The rally’s organizers are planning for up to 500,000 people to attend. While DC handles big events in its stride, that’s likely to create a lot of competition for hotel rooms that weekend. So if you’re planning to come into town then, it’s probably best to book sooner rather than later.

For Photographers

Gear Deals

B&H Photo has some really good deals at the moment on everything from cameras and lenses to tripods and lighting. These are running through March 3 to coincide with the WPPI conference.

Cherry Blossom Photo Tours

Walking photo tours can be a great way to learn some new photography skills with the help of experts. And photo tours for the cherry blossoms can take advantage of expert local knowledge to know where to be when to get the best light and vantage points.

If you’re looking to do a photo tour while you’re visiting, there are a few options. The best place to start is with Washington Photo Safari, but there are also some other options, which you can find on the DC photo tours page.

Most of these tours are limited to small groups, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance if you can. Of course, that also means rolling the dice in terms of when the cherry blossoms will be in bloom.

Renting Photo Gear

If you’re looking to rent some gear, whether something specialized or just to try out something different, I can recommend both BorrowLenses and Lens Pro to Go. They’re the ones I typically use when I need something specific for a client shoot or am just curious about trying something out. Lens Pro to Go currently has 15% to 25% off through March.

For local options, Ace Photo, District Camera, and f8 Rentals also offer rental gear, although their selections are often not as extensive as the big online places. And if you’re shooting video, DC Camera’s offerings are worth a look.

Last updated May 8, 2018