Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 1, 2017

More flowers are out on the indicator tree, and a handful of different varieties of cherries are starting to join it with their first flowers. Most of the trees range somewhere between the green buds and extensions of florets stages.

UPDATE: The National Park Service has now announced their peak bloom prediction: March 14-17. I've put together an explanation of what this means.
UPDATE: The NPS has now updated their tracking, saying that the buds reached the florets visible stage of development today. That's the second of the six stages in the blooming process that they track.
UPDATE: Because of the early bloom, the opening of the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival has been moved up to Wednesday, March 15 (originally March 20). It will still run through Sunday, April 16. In practical terms, this means that the Tidal Basin Welcome Area and ANA Performance Stage (both in the parking lot on the northeastern side of the Tidal Basin off Maine Ave SW) will open on March 15, earlier than originally planned. It also means that the Festival is looking for volunteers to help--if you'd like to help out, you can find details here.

It's a dreary but warm start to the day. We could end up with a record maximum later today, along with the risk of some violent storms.

More flowers are out on the indicator tree, and a handful of different varieties of cherries are starting to join it with their first blossoms. Most of the trees are spread somewhere between the green buds and extension of florets stages.

Stay tuned for the National Park Service's peak bloom prediction to be announced at a press conference later this morning. I'll post an update when they announce it, and you can of course always find the latest predictions on the peak bloom page.

Yesterday, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang posted their peak bloom prediction of sometime between March 15 and 19. They have a good track record, and you can read their detailed rationale here.

It'll be interesting to see what the folks at the NPS say. Based less on the weather forecast and mostly on looking at where the trees are right now, I wouldn't be suprised if peak bloom actually ends up coming a little earlier than that. Many of the trees have already reached the florets visible and even extension of florets stages. The indicator tree is still a few warm days away from full bloom. But the key threshold is going to be 70 percent of the trees.

It's perfectly normal to have trees in different stages—not every tree is on exactly the same schedule. But to my eye there also seems to be a wider spread than usual this year, with some trees much further ahead than others. So it'll be interesting to see if we end up with a more drawn out blooming process than usual or whether they end up bunching up a bit more. In terms of peak bloom, the NPS arborists decide that the trees have reached that when 70 percent of the Yoshinos are in full bloom. It might be that we end up a slower build-up this year.

Temperatures So Far

February closed out nearly 9 degrees above average. It continues the pattern of much warmer than normal temperatures we've seen throughout the winter.

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2018-19+3.8+1.2+3.2+0.0April 1
2017-18-0.5-0.3+6.3-3.2April 5
2016-17+2.1+6.1+8.7-0.7*March 25
2015-16+11.5-1.1+0.9+6.5*March 25
2014-15+4.0-0.4-8.7-1.5April 10
2013-14+2.6-3.8-1.2-3.9April 10
2012-13+5.9+4.3-0.7-3.0April 9
2011-12+4.9+4.7+5.3+10March 20
2010-11--1.3+3.6-0.9March 29
Data sources: National Weather Service / National Park Service.
ˤ = partial month, in progress
* = up until peak bloom

Photos from the Tidal Basin Today

There are several varieties of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin and nearby. A handful of the others are just starting to show their first flowers.

Indicator Tree

More flowers are out on the indicator tree, and you can now start to pick it out from a distance. There are still relatively few flowers on it, and it's still a warm day or two from full bloom, but it'll happen soon.

You can find more on the indicator tree here.

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.

Last updated March 2, 2017 12:26 pm

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  • Is it true that some of the yoshino cherry blossoms (not the autumn flowers) across from the Washington Monument have already started to blossom?

    • Sort of. You can count the number of trees one hand out of the thousands that are there. And at least one of those is known for coming out ahead of the others every year. You can find more details, along with photos, in the update I just posted.

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