Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 24, 2023

The cherry blossoms reached peak bloom yesterday. And they should be looking beautiful at least into next week.

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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.

The cherry blossoms reached peak bloom yesterday. That’s a relatively early peak bloom, but not that unusual in the context of recent decades. And it’s later than it looked like it might be up until a few weeks ago. But a cooler March has slowed them down.

The blossoms will be looking beautiful for several days. But precisely how long they stay out depends a lot on the weather. In cool, calm, and dry conditions they can stay out a week or even two. In windy, wet, and hot conditions, they can be chased away in under a week. But the prospects look good for them looking beautiful through the weekend and into next week (at least).

If you’re coming in over the weekend, the cherry blossoms will be looking lovely, but you won’t be alone. It’s likely to be crowded. If you’re driving, expect traffic jams. If you have alternative means of getting there, it might end up being a lot less hassle than dealing with the traffic and competition for parking.

How It Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning

Special thanks to our guest photographer for today, Carol Jean Stalun! Carol took these photos at the Tidal Basin this morning. You can check out her website or her Instagram for more of her work.

Thanks, Carol!

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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.
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Tidal Basin, March 24, 2023. Photo Copyright Carol Jean Stalun.

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

  • 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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