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Cherry Blossoms in DC: Warmer Weather Might Prompt Early Peak Bloom


Spring means cherry blooms more than anything else in Washington, D.C. Them in their dazzling white-pink dresses is a sight why thousands of visitors return each April. And this year, chances are they will have to schedule their visits for sooner.

Unofficial predictions on the peak bloom date now point to late March, rather than early April, because of the unusually warm weather during this winter.

Greatest Spots to Visit

The best spot to enjoy the beautiful trees’ colorful and calm harmony with their tiny flowers is around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park between the World War II Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Elsewhere on The National Mall, like the grounds of the Washington Monument and the East Potomac Park also make for fantastic photo ops.

The National Park Service (NPS) routinely replaces some of those trees because their average life span is 35 to 40 years. At any point over the past few years, however, the 59-hectare Mall has been home to some 3,700 trees.

What Is Peak Bloom Date?

The peak bloom date is when 70 percent of those trees are in bloom. In plain English, you can think of the peak bloom date as the mid-point of a period of up to a week when the trees are at their prettiest.

It starts when 20 percent of the blossoms are open and ends when the leaves take over with flower petals falling. That period, therefore, is when you can expect to see the season’s mesmerizing floral fireworks.

Lend an Ear to NPS

The NPS has an online bloom watch. It will announce and regularly update this year’s forecasts for peak bloom date there, depending on the change of weather conditions. The federal agency’s horticulturalists are always on the lookout to never miss the tiniest detail that could impact their predictions.

Since 2010, peak bloom dates fell in the last 10 days of March for five times and in the first 10 days of April for, again, five times. Last year, for instance, it was on April 1. This winter, however, has been a bit warmer, like it was three years ago when the peak bloom date was on March 25.

Extremely unusual weathers have historically proven to further delay or speed up the process. In 1990, for instance, the unseasonably warm and sunny conditions helped bring an early peak on March 15.

Chilly conditions, on the other hand, delayed the peak bloom until April 18 in the year of 1958. Those are the earliest and the latest dates on record.

Don’t Miss Out on Festive Mood!

The District, however, has gone to such lengths to celebrate the arrival of spring that visitors cannot help but feel like part of an ongoing carnival for much longer than the bloom period in town.

Each spring, it hosts one of the nation’s most anticipated spring celebrations, the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Between March 20 and April 12 this year, it will feature a multitude of events and performances. Among them will be a parade, fireworks, concerts and special exhibits that take their theme from the cherry blossoms.


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