It's still too early to guess with any confidence when DC's cherry blossoms will bloom in 2020, and no peak bloom forecasts have been issued yet. Stay tuned for the first peak bloom forecasts to be announced around the beginning of March.
The winter so far has been much warmer than normal. January and February have both tracked well above average. If that continues--and that's always a big "if"--it points to an earlier-than-average bloom, more late-March than early-April. But there's still plenty of time for cold weather to arrive and settle in, so it's still too early to predict with confidence.
The cherry blossoms are coming into full bloom, although there’s still plenty of flowers yet to open. More and more will open up over the next few days. If you head down this weekend you won’t be disappointed.
More details and photos from this morning below.
How It’s Looking at the Tidal Basin This Morning
These were taken very early this morning while there was still a fairly solid cloud cover. It has since cleared up a bit, making it a sunny and pleasantly warm day.
The early bloomers, including the indicator tree, are still going strong and aren’t yet showing signs of fading. Petals aren’t coming off them yet.
Visiting This Weekend?
If you’re visiting this weekend, you’ll have the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Kite Festival on the Mall near the Washington Monument on Saturday.
I’ve put together some information on the monuments and memorials you’ll come across as you wander around the Tidal Basin.
I’ve also put together some suggestions of you’re visiting with young kids.
This Weekend or Next Weekend?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions on which weekend would be better if you had to choose one. I wish I had a clear, definitive answer, but it’s not quite that easy.
Here’s why . . .
This weekend (March 30-31) has the virtue of being a safe bet. The cherry blossoms haven’t peak yet, but they are looking beautiful.
It’s entirely possible that they’ll be looking even more beautiful the following weekend (April 6-7), as more flowers have the chance to come out and they start shifting pink. The catch is that there is at least some risk of rain/wind interfering. For some examples of the practical ramifications of that, take a look at the photos in the next section about the weekend of April 6-7.
Prospects for the Weekend of April 6-7
Obviously, not everyone can go during the work week, so I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the weekend of April 6-7.
The odds are good that there will still be plenty of flowers out and they’ll be looking lovely. But it’s never a sure thing because so much of it depends on the weather.
In ideal conditions (cool, calm, dry), they can last more than a week–perhaps even two. But as they move past full bloom the flowers also become more fragile, which makes them more vulnerable to rain, wind, and storms, and it’s not unheard of for them to be mostly gone in 4-6 days after the peak bloom day.
I know that this isn’t as firm an answer as you’d like, but here’s a quick example to explain the hedging. These photos were taken at 5 days after peak bloom. The first two were in 2018:
These second two were taken 5 days after the peak bloom in 2014:
For more detailed examples, I’ve put together this photo timeline from past years showing the types of things you can expect in the days before and after peak bloom.
So there’s a good chance they’ll still be looking lovely the weekend of April 6-7, but as you can see from these photos, it’s impossible to give a firm prediction, and it’s worth going into it at least knowing of the risk that unhelpful weather can potentially have an impact.
Cherry Blossom 10-Miler
One extra consideration for April 7 is that the Cherry Blossom 10-miler is being run that morning. You can still get to the Tidal Basin, but it makes the logistics of getting to and from more complicated because of the road closures that come with it.
You can find more information here.
These are of one of the other trees that also reliably blooms a little ahead of the other, although not as early as the indicator tree. I’ll aim to track this tree regularly as we move through the bloom. These are the same branch, with the newest at top.
The Tidal Basin’s parking lot by the paddle boats is now closed for the Cherry Blossom Festival Welcome Area.
Ohio Drive has been switched to the special one-way traffic pattern. You can still get to Ohio Drive, but you’ll have to go around the other side of the Tidal Basin, past the paddle boats, and enter by the Jefferson Memorial.
If you’re coming in from the Arlington side of the Potomac, be aware Memorial Bridge is undergoing major structural repairs. It is still open, but there are temporary traffic lanes that can impact traffic flow and where you can turn once you get off the bridge. So using one of the other bridges might be a better bet.
No Drone Zone. If you’re planning to use a drone . . . don’t. The Tidal Basin, and the whole downtown DC area, is strictly a no-drone zone. Here’s a more detailed explanation.
Want to Help Support DC's Cherry Trees?
If you'd like to help support the care and upkeep of the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, the Trust for The National Mall has launched an Endow a Cherry Tree Campaign. Donations go to the official Cherry Tree Endowment, which will give the National Park Service additional resources to fund the care, maintenance, and possible replacement of the cherry trees. You can find more information here.
The Trust is dedicated to marshaling private support for maintaining and improving the history National Mall area. I'm not affiliated with the Trust--just an admirer of their efforts.