Cherry Blossom Watch Update: February 24, 2017

It's still warm, warm, warm. And most of the trees now have green buds coming through.

It's easy to forget that it's still winter. It's about as perfect weather as you could want. It's a world away from the snowy scene of this time two years ago when the Tidal Basin was still frozen over.

Most of the trees now have green buds coming through. As usual, not every tree is on precisely the same schedule--some are a bit behind, and some a bit ahead. While I've been writing this update, the National Park Service has updated their tracking page to indicate that they judge that 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry trees have reached the green bud stage.

The indicator tree is racing ahead of the others, and you can see in the photos below that its buds are clearly much further along to the florets visible stage.

As nice as it is, having days consistently in the 60s and even mid- to high-70s is definitely not normal for this time of year. It's breaking records all around the country.

So far, long-range forecasts looking ahead into March suggest that cooler--but not necessarily cold--weather is on the way much more in keeping with normal temperatures for this time of year. Here's a visual representation of what's expected to happen with temperatures. This is the National Weather Service's prediction for the likelihood that temperatures will be higher than normal (orange and red) or cooler than normal (blue) for the period March 3 to 9. As you can see, we're sitting in a pocket of white, which indicates normal temperatures.

(For those of us not from around here, I've added the pink arrow to show where Washington DC is.)

While that's likely to slow things down to a more normal pace, the cherry trees already have a running start, so it'll be interesting to see what effect it has (assuming the forests are correct, of course). For now, it's still looking good for a March bloom.

Peak Bloom Forecasts

As I write this, none of the major peak bloom forecasts has been issued yet. But the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has said they aim to put it out late this week (suggesting later today or tomorrow). And the National Park Service will be issuing their forecast this coming Wednesday.

As always, I'll keep main peak bloom forecasts page updated with the latest predictions.

Photos from the Tidal Basin this Morning

While most of the trees now have green buds, some of them are lagging a little behind.

With the risk of the Tidal Basin freezing over being basically nonexistent now, the paddle boats have been lowered off the pontoons into the water.

Indicator Tree

As you can see, it's further along in the process than most of the other trees. Typically it's around a week to ten days ahead of the others. I have more on it here.

Tulip Magnolias

Some of the tulip magnolias (or saucer magnolias) next to the George Mason Memorial are about to pop.

Floral Library

The tulips are planted and are sprouting, but there's not much to see so far.

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 24, 2017 4:26 pm

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  • Loving these quick reads in my inbox. Quick question will be in the DC area on the weekend of March 11th, do you think there will be some bloom for that weekend?

    • That would be extraordinarily early, but at this rate I can't rule it out. The temperatures have been so out of the ordinary that the usual timeline isn't especially reliable. As of this morning, the first flowers are out on the indicator tree, although the other tree are still a ways behind. I've just posted a new update that might help.

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