It's damp, cool, and rather dreary down at the Tidal Basin.
The first few blossoms are starting to pop on the indicator tree. But it's only a very small number for now--I could see maybe 3 or 4 on the whole tree (its branches are high up, so it's not always easy to get a close view). There'll be more and more coming out over the next few days.
Typically the indicator tree is a week to ten days ahead of the others, but it's possible that its lead might be less this year with the compressed timetable we're seeing. There are some photos below of the indicator tree, and you can find out more about it here.
The NPS judged that as of yesterday, March 13, the trees had reached the "florets visible" stage. That's an exceptionally quick progression from the "green buds" stage. In a "normal" year, the florets visible stage is typically about 16-21 days before peak bloom. But this isn't a normal year because of the very warm stretch we've had. Before we get to peak bloom we still have a few more designated stages: extension of florets, peduncle elongation, and puffy white.
Also, if you're not lucky enough to have a cherry blossom tree in your yard but still want some cherry blossoms at home, some florists at this time of year stock Yoshino cherry blossom branches. I picked up some this morning from The Enchanted Florist in Old Town, Alexandria. (It's worth calling ahead--they don't always have them in stock.)
Elsewhere around the Tidal Basin, the Maine Ave parking lot is now closed to parking as they set up the festival tents. And, as you can see, the tour buses are turning up en masse.
Photos Taken This Morning
I've included close-ups from several different trees to give a representative sample, because not every tree is on precisely the same schedule.
Where to Stay for the Cherry Blossoms?
If you're visiting from out of town and looking for ideas on where to stay, I've put together some suggestions here.