Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 11, 2016

We've had record-setting warm temperatures the past few days, and it's accelerating the development of the cherry blossom buds.

We've had record-setting warm temperatures for the past few days--with maximums about 20 to 30 degrees above normal--and we're expected to have temperatures at least 10 to 15 degrees above normal at least through the next week to ten days.

That's having an effect on the local flowers. Daffodils and tulip magnolias are popping out all over the place along with some of the other early fruit trees.

And there's clearly been some development in the cherry blossom buds even just in the past two days. The NPS determined that 70 percent of the trees reached the "green bud" phase on March 8. In a normal year, that can be around three weeks or more to peak bloom. But the warm weather is going to really compress the timeline this year, and it won't be long before the NPS says that we've reached the "florets visible" stage. Beyond that, we have a few more defined stages before we reach peak bloom: extension of florets, peduncle elongation, and puffy white.

The indicator tree is clearly ahead of the others but isn't flowering yet (see below). If you're heading down in the next few days and want to see some spring flowers, head over to the George Mason Memorial, where there are tulip magnolias and some other fruit trees starting to flower.

Road Closures Saturday: If you're heading downtown tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) in the morning up until at least 2pm, there will be road closures for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon to contend with. You can find detailed information on the road closures here and information on metro services etc here. And don't forget that daylight savings time kicks in at 2am on Sunday morning!

Photos Taken This Morning

Because not all of the trees are on exactly the same schedule, I've included close-ups from several different trees so that we get a more representative sample.

Indicator Tree

The indicator tree typically blooms a week to ten days ahead of the others. You can find out more information about it here (including how to find it).

Here are some photos of how it looks this morning. Once again, it's clearly ahead of the other trees but isn't quite ready to pop yet.

Maine Ave Parking Lot

The parking lot near the paddle boats is currently open, but many of the spots have been roped off for the crews prepping the area for the Cherry Blossom Festival tents. The lot will be completely closed to parking from March 14 to April 7.

Kutz Bridge

While the repairs to Kutz Bridge aren't yet quite finished, they'll be taking a break during the cherry blossom season because of the number of pedestrians nearby. The barges will remain in place under the bridge.

There has been a lot of work done to Kutz Bridge. The main visible repairs and improvements have been to widen the sidewalk on the southern side and install more solid railings along both sides. The widened sidewalk is going to be a great improvement when the crowds arrive for the cherry blossoms.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

After being empty through the winter, the Reflecting Pool is once again nearly filled. There's maybe 3-4 inches left to go, but that will likely be done over the next day or two.

They're still finishing up some construction work on the eastern end. The areas along the water's edge, including the walkways immediately adjacent, are still fenced off.

National World War II Memorial

The fountains are still drained.

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 March 15, 2016 2:23 pm

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