2023 Peak Bloom
The NPS judged that the Yoshino cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin reached peak bloom on March 23, 2023. They're now done for the year..
UPDATE: Later this afternoon, the National Park Service said that “we're expecting peak bloom to arrive at the early side of our prediction (March 22-25) or even a few days before.”
It's cold and windy this morning. There's still a very wide spread of development stages, and it's currently shaping up as a gradual rollout of blossoms.
It's easy to find some cherry blossom flowers out now–many more trees have at least a few blossoms out. It's still barely a hint of what's to come, with only the tiniest percentage of flowers open, but if you want to catch some early cherry blossoms, you won't have any trouble finding some of the first blossoms out–they're all around the Tidal Basin.
On March 11, the National Park Service judged that 70 percent of the trees had reached what's known as the peduncle elongation stage. That's the fourth of the six stages that they track heading into full bloom.
Overnight, the Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang revised their peak bloom prediction. They now predict peak bloom next week, sometime between March 19 and 23. They explained:
Because the buds are so far along so soon, we need to bump our peak bloom forecast forward by several days. We now predict peak bloom will occur between March 19 and 23, instead of between March 25 and 29. Our initial forecast was based on computer model projections for more intense and enduring cold weather than we’re actually experiencing.
That brings the main peak bloom predictions back closer to alignment.
It'll remain cold through tomorrow. It's unlikely to get cold enough to pose a threat to the developing cherry blossoms. And then there's a sudden warmup on Thursday and Friday, which will help move things along. A potential freeze on the weekend is worth watching, but current forecasts don't suggest that it's likely to get cold enough to cause major issues with the cherry blossoms.
The saucer magnolias are getting fragile now and won't be liking the wind building stronger during today, so if you want to catch them before they're gone, sooner is better than later.
Although there are some cherry blossoms out, they're not yet at a stage that makes for good backdrops for photos. The magnolias are still a better bet for that, but they won't be hanging around all that much longer.
West Basin Drive, which is the short, curved road that connects Ohio Drive to Independence Avenue right next to the MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial, is now closed and they're setting up the Welcome Area. For now, Ohio Drive has a normal traffic pattern, but that's likely to change any day now.
If you plan to visit on March 18, heads up that the Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon will be running downtown. The course isn't immediately adjacent to the Tidal Basin, but there will be road closures around the National Mall (mainly affecting the northern side–the Tidal Basin is on the southern side). You can find the course map here to get a sense of where road closures are likely.
How It Looks This Morning
Things Worth Knowing
- West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup. It is scheduled to remain closed through April 6. The MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial remain open as normal to pedestrian traffic.
- Ohio Drive traffic pattern is currently normal, but expect that to change any day now.
- On Saturday (March 18), there'll be a Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon downtown. Most of the course isn't near the Tidal Basin, but it does run along a section of Constitution Ave, around the Lincoln Memorial, and over Memorial Bridge. So there will be road some road closures affecting the area to factor in if you plan to drive, especially if you're coming from the northern side of the National Mall or from Arlington (Memorial Bridge will be closed). Here's the road closure information they've posted as well as a street-by-street breakdown.
- The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March
2018 through April 16. (They've revised the opening date to March 18.)
- The 2023 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk is scheduled for the weekend of April 1-2. The Tidal Basin will still be open to pedestrian traffic, but there'll be road closures in the surrounding area.
- The Jefferson Memorial is still undergoing renovations. The current phase mainly affects the lower level inside, but there's some fencing and scaffolding at ground level outside. The main rotunda remains open. The exterior renovations to the dome are still looking great!
- Parking lots A, B, and C mostly won't be available for visitor parking this year. They're being used as staging and storage areas for nearby construction on the Metro line.
- If you're looking for accommodation, I've put together some suggestions on where to stay when visiting DC's cherry blossoms.