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Cherry Blossoms Expected to Hit Peak Bloom on March 17

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Washington’s crop of cherry trees are expected to be at their most vibrant at least two weeks earlier than usual this year, the National Park Service announced Thursday. The trees will hit peak bloom—defined as when at least 70 percent of the trees along the Tidal Basin are blossoming—between March 17 and March 20, NPS officials said at a National Cherry Blossom Festival kickoff event at the Newseum.

The historical average peak-bloom date is April 4, but extended stretches of warm weather, such as two days last week on which Washington recorded new record-high temperatures, can move the trees to sprout their buds sooner than usual. Last year’s peak bloom occurred March 25, after a sudden cold snap bit into blossoms that were emerging after a run of unseasonably warm weather. Park Service officials recorded that the trees reached their green-bud phase on February 25, one of the earliest dates on record. From that first stage, the buds will transform through several phases, culminating in their vibrant pink clusters.

The festival itself shouldn’t miss peak bloom if the forecast holds up. The annual celebration runs from March 20 to April 15 this year, with the usual calendar of kite-flying fests, film screenings, parties, and other cultural events. There’s also the annual Cherry Blossom ten-mile foot race, and, a new staple of DC springtimes, Derek Brown’s cherry-blossom themed bar.

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.