Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 13, 2017

It's sunny and windy. The warmer than normal temperatures we're still seeing--and expect to see for a while yet--continue to tilt the odds in favor of an earlier bloom. And there's an early spring treat just across the road from the Tidal Basin.

As inviting as the clear blue skies look, it's very windy, with plenty of whitecaps on the Potomac and Tidal Basin. And while the actual air temperature isn't bad, the wind chill makes it less than pleasant.

But the strong gusts don't seem to be doing much damage to the trees. I saw very few branches down. The NPS arborists have been out quite a bit recently pruning the trees and taking down the dead branches, and that seems to have helped.

A couple of cold days late last week haven't made much a dent in the overall trend of warmer than normal temperatures. The current long-range forecasts suggest not only that there probably won't be any really cold snaps anytime soon but also that we'll continue seeing temperatures well above normal at least through the end of February. Here's how we're tracking so far compared to recent years:

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchPeak Bloom Date
2018-19+3.8+1.2+3.4 (as of Feb 15)
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

If things pan out that way, it continues to tilt the odds more heavily in favor of an early bloom. But that always comes with a qualification: it's still quite possible for a very cold March to turn things around. We saw that happen not long ago, in 2013. But for now, at least, an early bloom is looking more likely.

This time last year it was cold--very cold. The Tidal Basin was mostly frozen. And this time two years ago it was also very cold, as well as snowy.

If you're in the area, you might have noticed the daffodils sprouting (but not flowering yet). And if you're looking for an early taste of spring down near the Tidal Basin, there are some early flowering fruit trees nearby. I have some photos of them from this morning below.

And you can see how today compares with this time last year.

Peak Bloom Forecasts

There haven't been any peak bloom forecasts issued yet. But we can probably expect the National Park Service to issue their first forecast for the season in 2 to 3 weeks. As always, you can find the latest on the peak bloom forecasts page.

Photos from This Morning

An Early Taste of Spring

These aren't cherry blossoms--they're other varieties of flowering fruit trees--and they often come out ahead of the others. There are four trees currently blooming, some with white flowers and some with pink, over next to the World War I Memorial.

I have more details on them, including information on how to find them, in a March 2015 post.

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 February 16, 2017 9:30 pm

View Comments (2)

  • I want to know the perfect day to go an see the peak of the flowers
    I live in Long Island New York

    • It's too early to say, but it will be worth following the updates in coming weeks as things become clearer.

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