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 buds are still doing their thing. They’re moving into the “florets visible” stage now, the second of the five development stages tracked by the NPS before actually blooming. So they still have some work to do before the flowers come out.
As usual, the indicator tree is well ahead of the others, but it also still has a way to go before flowering. If you look very closely, you can see some the outside of some white petals just starting to poke through on some of the buds. There are some photos of it taken this morning below. This time last year it and a handful of others were already bloomin.
There’s some unsettled weather coming up in the next week to ten days, including some maybe-it-will, maybe-it-won’t forecasts for a few possible snowstorms.
After the freeze damage last year that destroyed about half of the blossoms as they were about to bloom, it’s natural to wonder if we’re in for a repeat. That’s unlikely, at least from these waves of weather over the next week or so.
There are two reasons. Firstly, at the stage the vast majority of the trees are in now and will be over the next week, the buds are quite well protected against the cold. It’s really only when they’re in the final stage before blooming that they’re vulnerable to freezing, and they’ve still got some developing to do before they get to that stage. It just so happened that last year many of them were in precisely that stage when the Arctic blast rolled in with very cold temperatures over several days. Secondly, I’ve not yet seen any forecasts suggesting extremely cold temperatures of the kind that would cause a problem even if the buds were in their vulnerable stage. So at this point I don’t see a lot of cause of concern. Given how preciously some of the oldest overhanging branches seem to be hanging on, I’d be more concerned about the weight of snow and ice on them, but that’s only a small number of the oldest trees.
We have a few more cooler days and then things will start warming up a bit. That will help speed things along with the buds.
Photos from this Morning
These were all taken this morning.
The indicator tree is consistently a week to ten days or so ahead of the others. This time last year it was blooming. As of this morning, it still has a way to go.
You can find more information about the indicator tree here.
Renting Photo Gear
If you’re looking to rent some gear, there are some deals worth knowing about:
- BorrowLenses has 15% off any rental. Use coupon code TAKE15OFF. Offer expires 3/12 and orders must be delivered/picked up by/on 3/19. They’re also offering 20% off a selection of popular gear (use coupon code 20FOR20 and only applies to these lenses and cameras.
- Lens Pro to Go currently has 15% to 25% off through March (must be delivered by March 30).
For local options, Ace Photo, District Camera, and f8 Rentals also offer rental gear, although their selections are often not as extensive as the big online places. And if you’re shooting video, DC Camera’s offerings are worth a look.
Cherry Blossom Photo Tours
Walking photo tours can be a great way to learn some new photography skills with the help of experts. And photo tours for the cherry blossoms can take advantage of expert local knowledge to know where to be when to get the best light and vantage points.
If you’re looking to do a photo tour while you’re visiting, there are a few options. The best place to start is with Washington Photo Safari, but there are also some other options, which you can find on the DC photo tours page.
Most of these tours are limited to small groups, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance if you can. Of course, that also means rolling the dice in terms of when the cherry blossoms will be in bloom.
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.