The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang have issued their first peak bloom prediction for 2017. They predict that the peak bloom date will fall sometime in the period March 15 to 19.
That would be well ahead of the historical average. The current early record for peak bloom is March 15, which happened in 1990.
You can find their detailed rationale here.
Here's how the buds were looking this morning:
You can find many more photos from this morning in today's update.
How Accurate Are Peak Bloom Forecasts?
The NPS horticulturalists are the first to point out that they're not really confident in their prediction until about 10 days out. There are so many variables that can come into play, especially since the prediction is based on long-range weather forecasts a month or more out.
It's not at all unusual for the forecasts to be revised as we get closer to the date as the actual weather conditions diverge from the long-range weather forecast they initially relied on.
Are There Any Other Forecasts?
The two to watch are the forecasts by the National Park Service and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. Both have a good track record.
From time to time there are some other ones issued that are worth noting, and I add those to the peak bloom predictions page.
What If I Miss Peak Bloom?
"Peak bloom" is a technical determination of when 70 percent of the flowers on the Yoshino cherry trees are determined to be out. It's a single day. If you're interested in finding out more, I have a post explaining what peak bloom is and isn't.
The crucial point is that you don't have to be there precisely on that specific day to be greeted with a beautiful sight. There are still flowers to see in the days before and after that.
It's impossible to say definitively exactly how long and how long after the peak bloom dates the flowers will be out, because it depends on the immediate weather conditions. But you can expect to see flowers several days before the peak bloom date and several days after. I've put together a photo timeline that shows what to expect, when.
If you're late for the Yoshino peak bloom by two or three weeks, you might in luck for a different variety that is also very pretty: the Kwanzan cherry blossoms.
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.