You couldn’t as for a nicer morning to kick off spring. It’s sunny, cool, and still.
Now that the temperatures have moderated, more flowers are coming out. It’s even easier to find some out today than it was yesterday, and we’ll continue to see that pattern for the next several days as the ones that survived the cold head towards a second attempt at a full bloom later this week. So if you head down to the Tidal Basin today you’ll find that they’re not yet at full bloom but that you can easily find flowers out. And from a distance they’re starting to get a little more color.
Several people have been asking where around the Tidal Basin is the best spot to find them. There’s not really one particular spot that stands out. The surviving ones are interspersed with the damaged ones. So pretty much anywhere around the Tidal Basin is as good as any for finding some flowers. There really aren’t any fully blooming trees at the moment, but they’re getting closer.
So when are they going to bloom?
On Friday afternoon, the National Park Service said that they judged that about 50 percent of the cherry blossoms survived the cold and that they expected those to bloom late this week. They didn’t mention specific dates, but it suggests that their current thinking is in the March 22-24 range. It’s not a formal revision of the peak bloom prediction, as such; it’s a recalibration based on the first half of the bloom being wiped out.
Many of the trees are only a warm day or two away from popping, but there’s still some that are further behind. You can find flowers now, but there’ll be more and more coming out over the next several days, and with moderate temperatures expected we’re likely to see a slow burn blooming process until it warms up on the weekend.
Cold Temperatures … Again
Current forecasts suggest that Wednesday night could get very cold, below the point at which damage can be done to the cherry blossoms. Weather forecasts change, of course, but it’s something to keep an eye on. There are likely to be many of the blossoms in a vulnerable stage right before blooming, and, as we’ve learned the hard way recently, it’s entirely possible that they could be damaged.
The Story So Far
If you’re just tuning in, here’s a quick recap of where we’re at.
It has been a topsy-turvy lead-up to the bloom this year. A warmer than normal winter led into a very warm February. That brought the cherry blossoms to the verge of blooming around mid-March. It was even shaping up to be possibly the earliest on record.
Then an arctic blast hit (well, actually two, but the one over the past week has been the most significant for the cherry blossoms–the saucer magnolias got wiped out in the first one). It slowed the development to a crawl. It also caused widespread damage to many of the blossoms because it came right when many were just on the verge of blooming and at their most vulnerable. A snow and ice storm turned them into cherry blossom popsicles. But we’re through that now, and temperatures are moderating.
The NPS says that about half of the cherry blossoms survived the cold and that they expect those to be fully blooming late this week (roughly March 22-24 or so). Because of the damage caused by a string of nights with cold, freezing temperatures, it will be a more subdued and reduced bloom this year than the kind of full-throated, dramatic bloom for which DC’s cherry blossoms are famous.
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.
Maine Ave SW Parking Lot
It’s closed for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. There are currently tents, a stage, food tents, and activity areas in there.
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
These photos should give you an idea of the type of progress you can expect to see if you head down to the Tidal Basin today.
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.