Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 21, 2018

It has been snowing steadily, and there's a layer of wet, slushy snow around the Tidal Basin. But it's not a threat to the cherry blossoms.

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.

It has been snowing steadily, and there’s a layer of wet, slushy snow around the Tidal Basin.

But if you’re concerned that we’re seeing a repeat of last year, don’t be. The cherry blossoms are fine. It’s not cold enough to do damage, and nearly all of the trees are still in the earlier bud stages when they’re not really vulnerable to frost. Last year was different for two reasons–it was much colder (teens and low 20s over a few successive nights) and the buds were much further along in the vulnerable stage right before flowering. There are still some cold temperatures expected over the next several nights, but they shouldn’t cause any real problems.

As usual, the banks of the Tidal Basin don’t have quite as much snow accumulation as even nearby suburbs. There’s maybe an inch, and it’s very slushy. Part of the reason is that the water tends to moderate temperatures a little and keep them just a few degrees higher than some other nearby areas.

The cool temperatures mean that it’s still very slow going for the buds, although when you look very closely you can see some progress. There’s a small handful of scattered trees now starting to pop a few flowers. The cool temperatures that are expected through the weekend and into the beginning of next week will keep things moving at a snail’s pace. Current forecasts expect things to start warming up in the middle of next week, which will help things move along.

If you’re heading down to the Tidal Basin this weekend, it is possible to find a few cherry blossoms out, but not many. It’s a tiny proportion so far, but they’re there if you really go hunting. The vast majority of the trees won’t be out this weekend. I aim to post another update on Friday in which I’ll go into more detail on where to go looking for the few that are out, so be sure to check back then.

How Things Look This Afternoon

Here’s a sense of how things are looking down at the Tidal Basin and nearby areas this afternoon (and some of the fun people have been having in the snow).

The Korean War Veterans Memorial. Taken with a Fujifilm X-T2.

This is an old cork tree, not a cherry tree. But it has some pretty interesting branches.

Taken with an Sony Alpha a6000.

JFK Hockey Fields next to the Reflecting Pool and Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Next to the Reflecting Pool.

View Comments

    • I haven't looked in on the Smithsonian's in the past few days. I'd expect their Instagram account to post an update sometime soon. The others I saw yesterday elsewhere seemed to be doing fine in the snow but weren't fully open yet.

  • These updates, photos and comments are super. Very informative and played a major role in my trip planning to view these elusive little buds.


  • how much construction on the back side of the Lincoln Memorial? Want a picture from the Arlington side.

    • That's all blocked off--you can't walk around there. You're limited to the east-facing side and then just the area near the steps.

      • thanks... if I took a picture from the Arlington cemetery to this direction - would the construction be obvious? Any idea how long it will be going on??
        thanks again

        • Actually, I haven't really been looking closely lately, but last time I noticed it there was the usual construction barricades and some equipment on the (what was) grassed area between the memorial and the road leading over Memorial Bridge). So yes, that would be noticeable. I'll try to remember to take a better look next time I'm going by.

  • Pretty! I hope we can find at least one cherry blossom in full bloom this weekend. Flight ticket was crazily expensive and we bought it just to see cherry blossom.

  • Which weekend would be better for a trip down to see the cherry blossoms- the last weekend of March/first of April (Mar 30-April 1) or the following weekend (April 5-7)? I was planning on going next weekend but not sure if they’ll be out with the cooler temperatures into next week!