Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 30, 2019

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.

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.

Here’s some information on getting to and from the cherry blossoms, and here’s some information specifically on parking options.

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:

+5 days in 2018.

+5 days in 2018.

These second two were taken 5 days after the peak bloom in 2014:

+5 days in 2014.

+5 days 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.

Early Bloomer

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.

March 30, 2019.

March 29, 2019.

March 28, 2019.

March 27, 2019.

March 25, 2019.

March 23, 2019.

March 19, 2019.

March 17, 2019.

Logistics

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.

For Photographers

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.

Last updated March 31, 2019

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