Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 22, 2023

We’re getting very close to peak bloom now. There are still a number of trees that have only really just started to open. But the warmer temperatures into tomorrow should do the trick and give them a jolt of energy.

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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.

We’re getting very close to peak bloom now. There are still a number of trees that have only really just started to open. If you’re looking for examples, take a look at some of the old trees over between the MLK Memorial and Japanese Lantern. But the warmer temperatures into tomorrow should do the trick and give them a jolt of energy.

Sometime very soon, the National Park Service will make the call that 70 percent of the cherry trees are flowering. That will be the official “peak bloom” mark. But you don’t have to be there at that specific day to see beautiful flowers. In fact, by definition, it means that there’s almost a third of flowers still to open. I personally think they look their best a day or two after peak bloom, especially as some of the early ones start to get pink tinges.

So it’s shaping up for them to be looking beautiful over the weekend. The forecast is for it to be damp, but they still look wonderful even in the rain.

While it’s never possible to say with absolute certainty–we’re dealing with weather that hasn’t happened yet, after all–the odds are good that the blossoms will get through the rain without too much problem. They’re still quite strong at this point. Rain next week, as they start to get more fragile, might be a different matter. And while the rain over the next few days might knock a few petals off from the earliest bloomers, that’s likely to only be a very tiny proportion of the whole. So, for the many questions about weekend prospects, that’s my current best guess: that they’ll still be looking beautiful and full and well worth seeing.

You can find photos taken at the Tidal Basin this morning down below.

How It Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning

These were all taken this morning. It’s starting to get busier.

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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023. This shot is in the MLK Memorial.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023. Along this stretch, quite a few of the trees have been lagging behind.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.
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TIDAL BASIN, Washington DC — The famous cherry blossoms approaching peak bloom around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC on March 22, 2023.

Reader Photos 2023

I’ve been getting some questions about whether I’ll be doing the reader photo submissions this year.

Absolutely! But submissions aren’t open yet. So keep your best shots handy and keep a lookout for the submission information coming soon (probably Monday or Tuesday).

For those who have started following along more recently, you can find some examples from previous years here.

What to Expect

  • They’ll likely hit peak bloom midweek and be looking wonderful through the weekend.
  • There is rain in the forecast for later this week. In all likelihood, it probably won’t have much negative effect on the cherry blossoms. They’ll still be quite strong and shouldn’t be too bothered by a bit of rain. Even if it does knock a few petals off from some of the early bloomers, it’s likely to only be a tiny fraction of the whole. As they get more fragile into next week, rain and wind will become bigger factors.
  • They should be looking beautiful over the weekend. Even though peak bloom will likely come midweek, that’s a technical threshold that is a single day. It means that 70 percent are blooming. By definition, that leaves about a third still yet to bloom.
  • The Yoshino cherry blossoms start white and gradually turn pale pink as they move past peak bloom.
  • There are about a dozen different varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and the surrounding area. The most numerous, and most famous, are the Yoshino cherry trees. But some of the varieties can be a little pinker 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 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.

Things Worth Knowing

  • West Basin Drive is closed for the Welcome Area setup and is scheduled to remain closed until 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 scheduled to remain closed until April 5.
  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs until April 16.
  • 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 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.)
  • I’ve put together some informational pages if you’re coming in to see the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin:
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