Cherry Blossom Watch Update: March 6, 2017

After a chilly weekend, there's not much change in the trees. A small handful of trees are still flowering, while the others are in a wide spread of development stages.

After a chilly weekend there’s not much change in the trees around the Tidal Basin. We had a few very cold nights with temperatures well below freezing, but the cherry blossoms don’t look to be any worse for wear. (The saucer magnolias, by contrast, did not fare so well.)

The same (very) few trees that were flowering on Friday are still the only ones blooming now. The vast majority of them are still somewhere between the florets visible and peduncle elongation stages.

The National Park Service currently lists the latest development stage reached to be the florets visible stage (on March 1). They’ll likely update it to extension of florets anyday now when they determine that 70 percent of the trees have reached that stage.

It’s perfectly normal for the trees to be at slightly different stages—they’re not precisely synchronized, and there are even some different varieties mixed in—but it does appear to me that there’s an unusually wide spread this year. Some trees are racing ahead to the peduncle elongation stage and even on the verge of puffy white, while others are still at the florets visible or even green buds stages. That might translate into a particularly drawn-out bloom process this year, with some trees firing early and quite a few lagging behind. Interestingly, many of the biggest, oldest trees–the grizzled ones down near the MLK Memorial–seem to be noticeably lagging behind. That could be good news for those with travel plans that don’t precisely align with the peak bloom prediction of March 14-17.

New Cherry Blossom Watch Instagram Feed

I’ve started a brand 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.

Family and Engagement Photos

Now that we have a better sense of when the cherry blossoms will be out, I’ve been getting people asking whether I’m available to shoot family portraits or engagement photos with the cherry blossoms. That’s not really my area, but I’ve put together some recommendations for other local photographers who might be able to help. It includes some we’ve hired for our own family photos.

Check out their websites for examples of their style, and please contact them directly for their availability and rates.

Photo Tours

I also get quite a few people asking whether I do photo tours of the cherry blossoms. As much as I’d enjoy doing that, it’s not currently something I offer. But I do have some recommendations for outfits and great photographers that do:

Where to Stay?

If you’re coming in from out of town and wondering where to stay, I’ve put together some ideas on hotel and accommodation options.

Photos from this Morning

You can see a single tree flowering right in the middle of the frame, while all of the ones around it are yet to get there. This is looking across at the bank running along the FDR Memorial. That tree is the same one with the close-ups of the flowers out, including the photo immediately above this one.

These ones, which are lagging behind, are on one of the grizzled old trees near the MLK Memorial.

This is a closer shot of that same flowering tree mentioned above.

Indicator Tree

Here’s how the indicator tree is doing this morning.

Last updated March 6, 2017

View Comments

  • Wow, some tough weather coming up for the blossoms. Meteorology is my hobby and background. Warm weather Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 60's. Then a real cold snap. Friday into next week. Along with that a couple of storms. Cold enough for snow. Storms could miss to the south or hit DC. Too early to know. In any event near record cold this weekend. Weather models are bring night temperatures down to about 20F and high temperatures in the 30's. I don't know much about Cherry trees and at what stage they will be in by Friday but looks like things could become complicated. Any opening after Friday will be stopped or greatly slowed for several days. I guess the question is how much damage if any this cold wave will have on them?

    • Yes, it's going to be an interesting week. Having seen what happened to the magnolias last weekend, I have my fingers crossed for the cherry blossoms.

  • Do you predict many more of the trees to be in bloom this Thursday-Saturday? With the predictions for peak bloom being next week, I was wondering if many if the trees are far enough along to bloom in the next few days. Thanks!

    • Warmer weather over the next few days should help, but it's impossible to say how many more will be out. Based on how close quite a few of them are, I'd expect several more, but it's probably still going to be a minority.

  • Thank you very much for putting all of this together. I check it everyday to see what the latest news is. I find it very helpful, and I am sure many others do as well. Your time and expertise is very much appreciated!

  • We have had flight reservations for march 24 weekend. I am now reading about the peak time, and I'm off a week. Will most trees still be in bloom? Not sure how long blooms last. Thank you for your help.

    • If the predictions are right--and I have no reason at this point to believe they won't be--the flowers will likely be well on their way or gone by then. You can get a visual sense of what to expect in the days after the peak bloom with this photo timeline.

  • Thanks for the daily update! I have a question about parking along the Ohio Drive. Usually I can park in the section between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, along the river in the direction of the traffic. However, I sort of remember last year people parked on the Ohio Dr. against the usual traffic direction, with the front of the cars facing the Arlington Memorial Bridge. If this is the same this year, does it mean I can't enter Ohio Dr from the Lincoln Memorial direction?

    Many thanks,

    • You can park there, but the traffic flow is temporarily changed to one-way when crowds pick up so that you can't enter from the Lincoln Memorial end--you have to go all the way around the Jefferson Memorial from Maine Ave SW to get there. For now, there are no restrictions in place. It's not clear exactly when they'll be implemented, although I'll be sure to note it in the updates when it happens. I would speculate that they'll be in place next week sometime, especially when the Festival's Welcome Area on the other side of the Tidal Basin is open.