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Cherry Blossoms Now Expected to Hit Peak Bloom on March 27

A cold beginning to March pushed back the blossoms' development by about ten days, the National Park Service says.
Photo via iStock.

The cherry trees around the Tidal Basin won’t be hitting one of their earliest peak-bloom periods on record thanks to a chilly beginning to March, the National Park Service announced Monday. The agency pushed back the peak-bloom forecast from between March 17 to and March 20 to between March 27 and March 31.

Peak bloom is defined as the period when at least 70 percent of the nearly 3,000 cherry trees along the Tidal Basin are blossoming. The original forecast was one of the earliest ever thanks to an unseasonably warm February, including a couple of days on which the high temperature in Washington eclipsed 80 degrees. But a chilly and windy opening to the current month has slowed the emergence of the trees’ pinkish-white petals by more than a week. Last year’s crop went through a similar pattern, when another warm February was followed up by temperatures plunging in March and nipping away at the blossoms’ development. The average peak bloom date is April 4, though the trees hit that stage on March 25 in both 2017 and 2016.

National Park Service officials detected the trees’ buds turning green, the first stage in the blossoming process, on February 25. But the agency has not yet issued an update that the florets that turn into the famous blossoms have emerged yet. Once the florets appear, it takes about another two weeks until the trees achieve peak bloom.

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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.