Washington Post Capital Weather Gang Issue Peak Bloom Prediction

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang have issued their prediction for the 2016 cherry blossom peak bloom.

Photo of Cherry Blossoms Reflected on the Water taken by David Coleman.
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It's still too early to guess with much confidence when the 2023 bloom will be. But we've seen a much-warmer-than-normal January, and long-range forecasts suggest above-average temperatures continuing as we get deeper into February (after a short very cold spurt at the beginning of the month).

On average, Washington DC's cherry blossoms bloom around late-March into early April, but the precise timing varies year to year depending on the local temperatures in the leadup to the bloom. You can find general information on the 2023 bloom to help plan your visit here.

The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang today issued their prediction for when the cherry blossoms will reach peak bloom in 2016.

They predict that it will fall sometime during the period March 24 to March 28.

That's much earlier than the average, and it's also about a week earlier than the prediction issued by the National Park Service horticulturists last week. The current NPS forecast is for peak bloom to fall sometime during the period March 31 to April 3.

UPDATE: Later in the afternoon, the NPS revised their forecast to March 18-23. More details here.

But the Capital Weather Gang says that temperatures through March now look as though they'll be even warmer than expected and that that will drive an even earlier bloom.

You can find more detail about their calculations here.

How Accurate Are These Forecasts?

The National Park Service issued its forecast last week, predicting that peak bloom will fall sometime between March 31 and April 3. There's no overlap here, so both can't be right.

It is not at all unusual for the forecasts to be revised as we get closer to the date, and you can keep up with the latest forecasts here.

What If I Miss Peak Bloom?

“Peak bloom” is a technical determination of when 70 percent of the flowers are blooming. It's a single day, and we won't know which exact day it falls on until it happens.

When the Capital Weather Gang says that they expect peak bloom to fall between March 24 and March 28, it means they expect the day that that 70 percent threshold is reached to fall within that period. It does not necessarily mean they'll be in full bloom for the duration of that entire period (although they might be). If the peak bloom date ends up falling on March 24, for example, the flowers will be on their way out by March 28 or so. If the peak bloom date falls in the middle of that range, the trees will be in what we might consider full bloom for that entire period.

But you don't have to be there on the precise peak bloom date to see a beautiful sight. For at least two days before and at least two days after (and often longer both before and after) you can expect to see the trees in full bloom. And there can be plenty of flowers to see for several days extended well beyond that. But most of the flowers will likely be gone by about a week or so after the peak bloom date.

I have two posts that explain it in more detail and provide photos of what to expect in the days before and after the peak bloom date.

Are There Any Other Peak Bloom Forecasts?

The big one is the one by the National Park Service. Their current prediction is March 31 to April 3. You can keep track of the latest updates on the peak bloom updates page.

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