Yesterday we had some major changes to the peak bloom forecasts. First, the Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang put out their forecast of peak bloom falling sometime during the period March 24 to 28. A few hours later, the National Park Service revised their forecast to March 18 to 23 (the previous forecast, issued last week, was for March 31 to April 3). Both are in light of the much warmer than usual temperatures we have now and are expected to have at least into the next week or so.
There’s no overlap in the current peak bloom forecasts, and obviously they can’t both be right. Understandably, a lot of readers are asking which to believe.
I don’t know. Both groups have a pretty good track record in recent years, and it’s unusual for them to diverge so much. I tend to rely more heavily on the NPS ones because they know the trees so well and they’ve been doing this a very long time. But having seen the trees this morning, including the indicator tree (see photos below), I’m a bit skeptical that we’re likely to see peak bloom by March 18. The indicator tree still has a way to go before it starts blooming, and that’s usually a week to ten days ahead of the others.
That said, the trees can accelerate surprisingly quickly. Here’s a great example from last year when we saw a massive difference in just two days–compare the photos from April 6 and April 8. So I know better than to say it’s not possible.
Now that we’re getting closer, I’ll be increasing the frequency of the Cherry Blossom Watch updates, so it’s worth checking back periodically or following along on the Cherry Blossom Watch Facebook page. And I keep the peak bloom forecasts page up to date with the latest predictions–it’s entirely possible they could be revised yet.
It’s a stunning spring morning at the Tidal Basin. It’s still and warm, with another near-80 degree day in store. And it’s this spell of much warmer than normal weather that’s responsible for the accelerated peak bloom forecasts.
Photos from This Morning
Here are some photos taken this morning around the Tidal Basin. Because not all the trees are on exactly the same schedule, I aim to get close-ups of several different trees so that we get a more representative sense of how they’re progressing.
The Indicator Tree
Here are some shots of the so-called indicator tree, a single tree that is consistently a week to ten days ahead of the others. You can find out more about it here.
There are some large tulip magnolias near the Tidal Basin that are often about a week ahead of the cherry blossoms. They’re not flowering yet, although they have a few buds ready to pop.
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool has been drained for the winter, but over the past several days they’ve been slowly refilling it. It’s roughly half-way filled now and should be good to go soon.
FDR Memorial Water Features
They’re all still drained.
National World War II Memorial Fountains
They too are still drained.
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.