It’s a crisp, sparkling morning at the Tidal Basin after another cold night. And that cold is taking a real toll on the cherry blossoms now.
Where there should be white and pink there’s now a lot of brown. Many of the ones that were in the late stages right before fully blooming have been damaged badly. They’re now hanging limp, looking as though they’ve been singed by fire.
But it’s by no means all of the trees. From outward appearances, at least, it looks like some might make it through. But there’s still at least one more cold night in store before temperatures begin to moderate.
All along, there’s been an unusually wide spread of development stages, with some trees well ahead of others. The ones that were ahead were the most vulnerable, and many have succumbed. But many trees have also been lagging behind, and because they’ve been in earlier stages they’ve been less vulnerable. The NPS horticulturalists took some clippings from those trees yesterday and are putting them under heat lamps to try to make them bloom to see if there’s any internal damage we can’t see.
I don’t know what percentage to put on it–I’ll leave that to the experts at the NPS–but there should be at least some flowers left to bloom later this week and into next week.
The NPS said yesterday that they still expect that whatever blossoms make it through the cold to reach peak bloom during their revised prediction window of March 19 to 22. But it’s safe to say it’s not going to be the dramatic, full-throated bloom that they cherry blossoms are famous for. It’s going to be a much reduced bloom this year.
I’ve included quite a few photos below of the various stages to illustrate what I mean.
Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms
Several people have asked about the Kwanzan cherry blossoms. They bloom a bit later than the more famous Yoshinos.
The short version is that they’re fine. They much earlier in their development and better protected from the biting.
I’ve posted a more detailed update on them separately, along with some new photos taken this morning.
Where things stand
Will the peak bloom be delayed further?
This is what the NPS said about this yesterday:
With temperatures moderating after the current cold snap, peak bloom of the Yoshino variety of cherry trees is still expected to occur within the projected March 19-22 window. However, the number of cherry trees that reach the blossom stage may be reduced as a result of the recent cold temperatures.
What can I expect to see this weekend?
The answer to this begins the same way: we don’t know how many will be able to ride out the cold temperatures of the next couple of nights.
For those that do ride it out–and that will almost certainly be at least some and might even be most of them–they’ll start kicking things up a notch again once they get some warmth.
So there should be some flowers to see, although it’s going to be a reduced bloom this year.
Cherry Blossom Watch Instagram Feed
I’ve started a new Cherry Blossom Watch Instagram account. I’ll often be able to post short updates there more quickly than on the website, so if you want to get a jump on the very latest updates, be sure to check it out.
You can follow it at @cherryblossomwatch.
Sunrise tomorrow at the Tidal Basin is at 7:15AM and sunset at 7:17PM.
The spring equinox is in a few days, which means that the sunrise and sunset is currently lining up along the National Mall (which is laid out East-West).
Maine Ave SW Parking Lot
It’s closed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. They’ve started setting up temporary tents and facilities for the Welcome Center due to open on March 15.
Traffic Restrictions on Ohio Drive
The temporary traffic restrictions are now in place. Ohio Drive SW is now one-way, and the entrance to it from the Lincoln Memorial end is closed. To get to it you have to enter via Maine Ave SW and go around the Jefferson Memorial.
Photos from this Morning
If you head down today, this is the kind of thing you can expect to see. These were all taken this morning.
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.