Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 28, 2017

Now that we're at three days after the peak bloom day, the cherry blossoms are turning pink and still looking great, but they're also becoming fragile. The rain is knocking petals off and blanketing the ground with cherry blossom snow.

DC Cherry Blossoms in 2021

It seems increasingly likely that DC will still be under COVID-19 restrictions in spring 2021 while the cherry blossoms are blooming. So it's shaping up to be a good year to follow along from afar from the safety and comfort of your home.

Now that we’re at three days after the peak bloom day, the cherry blossoms are turning pink and still looking great, but they’re also becoming fragile. The rain is knocking petals off and blanketing the ground with cherry blossom snow.

The peak bloom date is the day on which when 70 percent of the blossoms are fully blooming. This year, it’s calculated on the blossoms that weren’t knocked out by the cold.

While peak bloom gets all the attention, the point at which the cherry blossoms are now–2 to 3 days later–is my personal favorite time for them, with the blossoms becoming billowy and pink. But it’s short-lived–in the coming days more and more petals will be knocked off, especially with rain and wind. Over the coming week or so they’ll gradually be replaced by green leaves; some green leaves are already starting to show through.

The weather hasn’t been ideal over the past week, and today has yet more low clouds and frequent rain showers moving through. But at least it’s warm. And there are few people down there this morning. If it wasn’t for the tour buses bringing high schoolers on spring break it’d be practically deserted.

How Long Do the Cherry Blossoms Hang Around?

How long the cherry blossoms stick around is about as predictable as everything else about them.

Sometimes they can be out for a week or even, in ideal conditions, even more. Sometimes they can be mostly gone a few days after the peak bloom date.

Once you get to 2 to 3 days after the peak bloom date the blossoms start to become fragile and can be easily knocked off by rain and wind.

It depends a lot on the weather. Cool, calm weather prolongs the bloom. Warm, windy, rainy weather encourages a quick exit. I’ve put together a photo timeline based on recent years that gives some idea of what to expect, when. It also shows how much variation there can be year to year.

Later this week. By Tuesday, the rain had already started to knock a large number of petals off. There are still many, many more to go, so the trees were still looking great, but it’s an indication of how fragile they are. And they’re only going to become more fragile each day.

Weekend of April 1-2. There might still be some late stragglers to see at least some blossoms, but most of them looks as though they’re going to be well on their way out by the weekend. But some patches, like the stretch over by the MLK Memorial, are trailing a little behind and have the best chance of sticking around longer. The ones by the FDR Memorial are a little ahead and are already shedding petals quite profusely.

Weekend of April 8-9.The main ones (Yoshinos) will be done, and it’s pretty unlikely that they won’t be all or nearly all leafing out by this point. But the timing could be excellent to see the Kwanzan cherry blossoms (and perhaps the tulips, another spring highlight around here). There are fewer of them, but blossom for blossom the Kwanzans are arguably even prettier than the Yoshinos. I have more information on them, including a map showing where to find some of the larger clusters, here.

Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms

The Kwanzans usually bloom two to three weeks after the more famous and numerous Yoshinos, so they’re a very good option if your visit is a little late for the main bloom.

For now, they’re very early in their blooming process, with the green buds coming through.

I posted a separate update on them a couple of days ago.

Cherry Blossom Watch on Instagram Feed

There’s a new Cherry Blossom Watch Instagram account: @cherryblossomwatch.

And while you’re at it, if you’d like to follow along with my main Instagram feed, it’s @havecamerawilltraveldc.


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 for the Welcome Center.

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

Here’s how they’re looking this morning.

With the water level high at high tide, some of the low-hanging branches are actually dipping into the water.

With a very high tide and rain the Tidal Basin is overflowing its banks and flooding the walkway. It often does over by the Jefferson Memorial, but this stretch is a bit further around, at the southern end of the FDR Memorial.

Last updated April 4, 2017

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