Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 29, 2022

Last night’s hard freeze wasn’t kind to the cherry blossoms. The extent of the damage isn’t fully clear yet, but it’s looking a bit grim.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
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Washington DC's cherry blossoms reached peak bloom on March 21. They are now done for the year. You can find the most updates from the 2022 bloom here.

The cool temperatures that had been helping to prolong the bloom might have taken things too far last night. It dipped into the low to mid-20s, which is nearly 20 degrees below normal for this time of year. And it's into the danger zone for the cherry blossoms.

The extent of the damage isn't fully clear yet, but it's looking a bit grim. As of this morning, they're still white/pink. But they're also quite shriveled and droopy and clearly not their usual selves. You might notice in the photos below that there are no close-ups of open flowers–that's because I couldn't find any fully open like usual.

Even with the sun up, it's still cold. Maybe the warming sun helps them bounce back. But it's probably more likely that over the next day or two they'll turn brown, suffering much the same fate as the magnolias a few weeks ago. And it's not just the cherry blossoms–some of the other spring flowers and flowering trees don't seem to have appreciated last night's freeze much either, including daffodils, flowering fruit trees, and any magnolias that survived the last freeze.

On the positive side, it's a sparkly morning out. Despite the chill, it's a very sunny morning with a slight (but cold) breeze and relatively few people around.

I've posted the first collection of reader photos for 2022. Thank you to everyone who has submitted already, and last call for anyone who still would like to send in their photos. The form is at the bottom of this page, but it will be deactivated tomorrow morning.

How it Looks at the Tidal Basin This Morning

These were all taken this morning.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Clearing away the “snow.”
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
This is one of the trees in the MLK Memorial. These were amongst the earliest bloomers this year. As you can see, they're done even before the freezing temperatures hit.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
This is one of the trees in the MLK Memorial. These were amongst the earliest bloomers this year. As you can see, they're done even before the freezing temperatures hit.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.
In the days either side of the spring and fall equinox, the sun rises almost directly east. And if you have a clear sunrise, as we had this morning, the sun shines directly into the back of the main chamber of the Lincoln Memorial, creating this unusual lighting effect. The golden glow is natural–it's from the earliest rays of the sunrise. I have more detail on this here.
Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms.

Logistics for Visiting the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms

Please don't pick the blossoms, climb on the trees, or damage the branches. Many of the trees are old and fragile (some over a century old), and the Tidal Basin area is a National Park.

Ohio Drive has been switched to the special one-way traffic pattern. That will remain in place during the main bloom. So you'll need to enter up by the Jefferson Memorial; you won't be able to enter from the Lincoln Memorial End. There is parking along one side of Ohio Drive, but it's first-come-first-served and frequently fills up.

NPS Welcome Area. The NPS is switching things up this year and has moved the Welcome Area from the old Maine Ave parking area to next to the MLK Memorial (West Basin Dr SW). So West Basin Dr SW is closed to traffic from Ohio Drive. That has displaced some disabled parking spots; they've been moved to a temporarily signed area about 100 yards or so away at the intersection of Ohio Drive and West Basin Dr SW).

Submit Your Best Shots to the Reader Photos 2022!

Thanks for your interest, but 2022 submissions are now closed. You can see the posted photos here.

Local Charity Spotlight

Looking to give back? Here's one of the local charities (or with local links) that is well worth contributing to.

Bridges to Independence

Bridges to Independence leads individuals and families out of homelessness and into stable, independent futures.

It's based in Arlington, VA, and focuses on the local area.

You can donate directly on their website and learn more about their mission and impact.

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