NPS Revises Peak Bloom Forecast Again

The National Park Service has revised their 2016 peak bloom forecast for a second time.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 15, 2016 - Indicator Tree taken by David Coleman.
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It's still too early to guess with much confidence when the 2023 bloom will be. But we've seen a much-warmer-than-normal January, and long-range forecasts suggest above-average temperatures continuing as we get deeper into February (after a short very cold spurt at the beginning of the month).

On average, Washington DC's cherry blossoms bloom around late-March into early April, but the precise timing varies year to year depending on the local temperatures in the leadup to the bloom. You can find general information on the 2023 bloom to help plan your visit here.

Citing cooler than forecast temperatures this week, the National Park Service last evening (March 15) revised their peak bloom forecast again. They now expect the start of the peak bloom period to be March 23-24. And they're putting an emphasis on this being the beginning of the period.

For photos of how the trees were looking as of yesterday, take a look at the March 15 Cherry Blossom Watch update.

They also judged that 70 percent of the trees had reached the “extension of florets” stage on March 15.

17 thoughts on “NPS Revises Peak Bloom Forecast Again”

  1. Greetings,
    We booked my girlfriends flight to come up here on the 19th based on last weeks forecast of 18-23 March. She will be here the 19th-21st. With the bad weather prediction for Sunday, what can we expect to see this weekend?

    Reply
    • At this point of the process, even day by day can see big changes. So the best chances of seeing flowers out will be later in her visit. There might well be some early trees out before that since not every tree is on exactly the same schedule, and the chances are going to increase each day. The indicator tree is coming out now, and here’s how to find it. Unfortunately, as you say, the weather forecast isn’t great, but that might also keep crowds away. If there aren’t many actual cherry blossoms out, head over to the George Mason Memorial, where there are some beautiful tulip magnolias. I plan to post some new photos tomorrow–they might also help with what to expect.

      Reply
  2. Hi David,
    I will be arriving 25th Saturday evening and will be there whole day Sunday.
    Do you think this will be past the peak bloom period and most of it might be fallen by that time.

    Thank you for your advice.

    Reply
    • There’s a good chance there’ll be plenty of flowers to see through the weekend, but it’s impossible to say for sure. For argument’s sake, if the peak bloom day comes on Wednesday, Sunday will be a bit touch and go, depending on things like wind, rain, or storms. Sometimes there are still a lot of flowers to see 4 days after peak bloom; other times there are far fewer. But if the peak bloom day ends up falling on, say, the Friday, you’ll be in good shape on the Sunday. This timeline gives you a sense of what you can expect to see in the days after the peak bloom.

      Reply
  3. We will be at the Tidal Basin Fri-Sat. Do you suggest a starting point to take in the trees? Soo happy the peak bloom has shifted to be inline with our visit.

    Reply
    • You really can’t go wrong. They’re all the way around the Tidal Basin, and you can walk the entire circuit (about 1.8 miles). Some of the oldest trees–some over a century old now–are over near the MLK and FDR Memorials, but there are beautiful trees all the way around.

      Reply
  4. Hi David,
    Great website! We will arrive late night on 3/23. We will have full day Thursday, Friday and will fly out 6pm on Saturday. If the forecast holds, we will have 2 good days to explore around Tidal Basin. Are Thursday and Friday less crowded than Saturday or it does not matter because of full bloom? Is parking around Tidal Basin available after peak hour available on working day? Thanks

    Reply
    • Your timing should be very good. Weekdays are generally much less busy than weekends (although it’s all relative). As an example, here are some photos from the actual peak bloom day last year, which fell on a Wednesday. The weather wasn’t great, but as you can see in some of the shots, it wasn’t very crowded at least during the morning.

      During full bloom parking can be a hassle any day of the week because some lots are closed and there are special restrictions and traffic patterns in place. But there are a lot of spots nearby and a circulating shuttle bus if you end up parking further away. There are also ways to reserve parking spots in other parking garages nearby. Here’s some more information on that.

      Reply
    • My best guess at the moment is that later in the week might be better. There’ll likely be some early starters coming out early in the week, but more and more will be coming out as the week goes on. The catch is that, at least as it stands this far out, the weather forecast is less than ideal later in the week.

      Reply
  5. What exactly does the ‘beginning’ of peak bloom mean?
    If that happens, do you think next weekend will still be in peak bloom?

    Reply
    • Yes, that’s something different. They don’t usually put it that way–usually they put out a window with start and end dates. My guess is that they want to push it back while also trying to be inclusive of the Easter weekend. But I can’t really say for sure.

      Reply

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