The National Park Service declared that Washington’s cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin reached their penultimate stage of development on Saturday, meaning peaking bloom should occur within the next several days.
Tidal Basin cherry blossoms are near peak bloom in Washington
Climate change makes cherry trees blossom early — and puts them at risk
The blossoms are now at Stage 5, known as “puffy white” — meaning most of the flowers are just about to open up. Some trees are already flowering, and photographers at the Tidal Basin have shared beautiful views.
Less than 24 hours after the cherry blossoms reached Stage 5, the coldest air in a month moved over the D.C. area Sunday morning and temperatures dipped into the upper 20s; at Reagan National Airport, just south of the Tidal Basin, the low was 29 degrees. Fortunately, exposed buds and early bloomers can withstand these temperatures. Had it dropped below 28 degrees for more than a few hours, they would have been harmed. This occurred in 2017, when temperatures plunged into the low 20s and half of the blossoms were damaged.
Temperatures are forecast to drop into the upper 20s and low 30s again on Monday and Tuesday mornings, which will probably slow the blossoms’ progression through this second-to-last stage. But both days and nights and will warm substantially midweek, with lows rising well above freezing and highs moderating into the 60s and 70s. It’s probable that peak bloom will occur between Tuesday and Friday.
The National Park Service declares peak bloom when 70 percent of cherry tree buds are flowering. Once peak bloom occurs, the blossoms can remain on the trees for another week or so if the weather is mild and winds are light. But some years, petals fall off sooner because of wind, rain or frost.
Through Thursday, weather will be generally favorable for seeing the blossoms. Winds should mostly be light to moderate; only Wednesday night offers a small chance of light showers.
Some more substantial showers and gustier breezes are possible by late Friday into Saturday morning, but next weekend should be pretty nice and some flowers should remain.
Assuming peak bloom occurs between Tuesday and Friday (March 21 to 24), it would be about seven to 10 days ahead of average. Because of climate change and rising temperatures, the average peak bloom date has advanced from around April 5 to March 31 over the past century; this year’s bloom cycle is certainly in keeping with that trend toward earlier dates.
Source: Washington Post
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