Happy Spring! If you live in the Washington D.C. area, or have ever visited the Washington D.C. area, you know that one of the main attractions in the Spring is the cherry blossoms.

Every year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates Washington DC’s 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo. In addition to the Cherry Blossom Festival, there are other well-known events to mark the Spring occasion, like the Cherry Blossom 10 miler/5K.

The cherry blossoms reached their peak bloom in late March. There are six phases within the bloom cycle; peak bloom is the final phase.

  • Green Buds
  • Florets Visible
  • Extension of Florets
  • Peduncle Elongation
  • Puffy White
  • Peak Bloom

According to the National Park Service (NPS), peak bloom is when 70% of the cherry blossoms are open. Peak bloom tends to be in between the last week of March and the first week of April, and lasts for a few days.

This year there was significant stress over the peak bloom – when it would be and how many blossoms would end up blooming. The weather in our area this winter was incredibly weird and was a direct cause of the continued concern over the state of the famous cherry blossoms.

In February, the temperatures were akin to those you experience in Spring. There were far more warm days than cold days. There were even days where it was over 60 degrees! Then in March, when Spring did arrive, we had the first significant snowfall of the season. Schools were closed for up to two days, ice covered the streets, and temperatures were below freezing.

With the warmer temperatures in February, the NPS forecasted an earlier than usual peak bloom for the 2017 cherry blossoms. The flowers had gotten close to blooming, paving the way for one of the earliest peak blooms. However, the mid-March temperature shift changed the forecasted peak bloom date and did damage to the vulnerable cherry blossoms.

After the cold front, the NPS issued a press release stating, “With temperatures moderating after the current cold snap, peak bloom of the Yoshino variety of cherry trees is still expected to occur within the projected March 19-22 window. However, the number of cherry trees that reach the blossom stage may be reduced as a result of the recent cold temperatures.”

There are other varieties of cherry trees along the tidal basin that bloom later, in mid-April, that were protected from the cold weather. For example, the Kwanzan trees are slated to reach peak bloom between April 10th and 13th.

This year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 15th through April 16th and is made up of several fun events.

Events in April include:

  • Blossom Kite Festival – April 1st
  • National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade – April 8th
  • Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival – April 15th

Consider taking a day trip into the city to see the cherry blossoms and participate in one of Washington D.C.’s most cherished traditions!