May 19, 2022

Cold Weather Will Make Cherry Blossoms in D.C. Peak Later Than Expected

The National Park Service has pushed back its prediction for peak cherry blossom blooms in Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin.

On March 1, the NPS predicted that the capital’s cherry blossom trees would reach their peak bloom between March 17 and 20. But on Monday, the service pushed back its prediction by 10 days.

Related: 6 Places to See the Cherry Blossoms in Japan Minus the Crowds

The D.C. cherry blossom trees are now expected to reach their peak bloom from March 27 through 31. The NPS defines “peak bloom” as the time when 70 percent of the area’s Yoshino cherry blossoms are flowered. Due to unpredicted cold weather in the area over the past weeks, the buds on the trees remain tightly closed.

“When we go out and look at the trees, they are still in that first phase — that green bud phase — and the temperatures forecasted for over the next week to 10 days don’t indicate that we are going to get the temperatures we need to get us over that hump in the next week,” Mike Litterst, spokesperson for the NPS, told WTOP.

It’s not uncommon for forecasters to change their predictions of the bloom. The NPS states that it cannot be confident of its prediction until about 10 days before peak bloom. Even then, last-minute, extreme changes in weather can drastically change predictions.

The rescheduling puts the blooms back on track with historical trends. Although peak blooms have happened as early as March 15 and as late as April 18, the last week of March and the first week of April are the most common times.

Once the cherry blossoms bloom, they remain on the trees for about 10 days, the NPS said.

This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival will take place in the capital through April 15.

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