News & Politics

Peak Bloom for Cherry Blossoms Now Expected to Begin March 18, Because It’s Hot

Photograph via iStock.

The National Park Service has moved up its expected dates for when Washington’s cherry trees will hit their peak bloom by nearly two weeks, citing unseasonably warm weather. The cherry blossoms are now projected to be at their most vibrant from March 18 to 23, which would be one of the earliest blooms on record.

“Although the National Park Service factored above average March temperatures into the original prediction date, potentially record-setting temperatures, averaging nearly 20 degrees above normal for the next week, have greatly accelerated the bloom watch,” the agency writes in a press release. Last Thursday, NPS officials predicted peak bloom lasting from March 31 to April 3, itself a relatively premature timeframe chalked up to an unseasonably warm winter.

Following a chilly weekend, temperatures in DC have rocketed into the high 70s today, with high temperatures forecasted to reach between 75 and 80 for the rest of the week. Washington has registered an average temperature during March of 46.8 degrees since the National Weather Service started keeping records in 1871.

The earliest the cherry blossoms have hit peak bloom was March 15, 1990. If the latest forecast holds up, this year’s petals will arrive two days before the official start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and start fading three days before the festival’s formal opening ceremony.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.