Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 19, 2023

There are plenty of trees flowering now, and they’re looking quite pretty. But there are also plenty yet to open (or fully open). So we’re still a warm day or two away from peak bloom and their full display.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
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2024 Peak Bloom

It's still too early to know precisely when the famous cherry blossoms will bloom around the Tidal Basin in Spring 2024. By early March, we'll start getting a better sense of timing, after we see how temperatures are trending during the latter part of the winter. Warmer temperatures bring an earlier bloom; cooler temperatures push the bloom later.

There are plenty of trees flowering now, and they’re looking quite pretty. But there are also plenty yet to open (or fully open). So we’re still a warm day or two away from peak bloom and their full display.

The National Park Service determined that 70 percent of the Yoshinos had reached the puffy white stage as of yesterday. That’s the fifth, and last, development stage that they track before peak bloom.

After a warm winter brought a rushed start, cooler temperatures have brought a much slower rollout. It was over three weeks ago that the indicator tree started flowering. And there are still a number of trees around the Tidal Basin that aren’t yet in the puffy white stage. The warm winter has scrambled the process somewhat. Even the daffodils are confused–some have been blooming for weeks, while others aren’t yet open.

It got quite cold early this morning, but it doesn’t appear to have had too much effect on the cherry blossoms. When you look up close, many of the buds that have not yet quite flowered are looking droopier than normal, but they’ll hopefully spring back today when they get a few more degrees in them. There are some examples in the photos below.

Heads Up

  • West Basin Drive is closed to traffic, and the Welcome Area set up there is open. (Next to the MLK Memorial).
  • Ohio Drive has now changed to a one-way traffic pattern, but they’ve reversed the direction this year. You can still enter near the Jefferson Memorial–that will direct you around to the left towards Parking Lot A and East Potomac Park in the direction of the golf course. If you want to access the stretch of Ohio Drive that’s next to West Potomac Park (i.e., by the FDR Memorial), you have to enter off Independence Avenue down by the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The Paddle Boat parking lot is closed through April 5.

There’s more info at the bottom of this post.

What to Expect

  • The Yoshino cherry blossoms start white and gradually turn pale pink as they move past peak bloom.
  • There’s about a dozen different varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and surrounding area. The most numerous, and most famous, are the Yoshino cherry trees. But some of the varieties can be a little more pink than others.
  • There are around 3700 cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and nearby areas. There are many nearby surrounding East Potomac Park (the golf course and Hains Point) as well as quite a few on areas of the National Mall.
  • How long they stay out depends largely on the weather. In the right conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can be out for a week or even two. In the wrong conditions (windy, rainy, hot), they can be chased away in as little as 3-5 days. I’ve put together a visual timeline using photos from previous years here. As the blossoms move past peak bloom, they become increasingly fragile. This means that there’s a risk of a big rain or windstorm knocking many of them off. And unsettled weather is quite normal at this time of year.

How It Looks This Morning

These were all taken early this morning. It was chilly and windy but still pretty in the early sunlight.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. This marker is next to the Japanese Pagoda. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.Pin
TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin coming into bloom on March 19, 2023. Photo © David Coleman / CHERRYBLOSSOMWATCH

Things Worth Knowing

  • West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed through April 6. The MLK Memorial and FDR Memorial remain open as usual to pedestrian traffic.
  • Ohio Drive has now changed to a one-way traffic pattern, but they’ve reversed the direction this year. You can still enter near the Jefferson Memorial–that will direct you around to the left towards Parking Lot A and East Potomac Park in the direction of the golf course. If you want to access the stretch of Ohio Drive that’s next to West Potomac Park (i.e., by the FDR Memorial), you have to enter off Independence Avenue down by the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a bit messy, because you actually go in what is usually the outgoing side of the John Ericsson Memorial’s traffic island—the usual entrance lanes are blocked off.
  • The Paddle Boat parking lot is closed through April 5.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 18 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 will be road closures in the surrounding area.
  • The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is still drained.
  • 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 lot A is open. Parking lots B and C aren’t available for visitor parking this year. They’re being used as staging and storage areas for nearby construction on the Metro line. (These are the lots at the base of the 14th St Bridge, behind the George Mason Memorial.)
  • If you’re looking for accommodation, I’ve put together some suggestions on where to stay when visiting DC’s cherry blossoms.
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