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See D.C.’s Early Blooming Cherry Blossoms After a Super-Warm Winter



It was weirdly warm in Washington D.C. and along much of the U.S. East Coast this winter. And, despite some brief bursts of colder temperatures, the unseasonable weather has had some some spillover effects. Spring sprung early, bringing on pollen and allergy season to parts of the country sooner than generally expected. But, on a brighter note: there are pretty flowers to look at.

The nation’s capital is experiencing an early bloom of its iconic cherry blossoms. The trees have historically reached their most showy between the tail end of March and beginning of April, according to the National Park Service. April 4 is the average date of peak bloom for the D.C. cherry blossoms, based on more than a century of National Park Service data collection.

This year though, according to the NPS, peak bloom officially arrived Thursday, March 23—nearly two weeks ahead of the average. 2023 is the fourth year in a row that peak bloom has hit prior to April 1. Statistical analysis suggests that Washington’s flowery trees are trending earlier over time, per the EPA. “Since 1921, peak bloom dates have shifted earlier by approximately seven days,” the agency notes. “The peak bloom date has occurred before April 4 in 16 of the past 20 years.”

If it wasn’t obvious, climate change is likely to blame. Washington D.C. has warmed by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit on average over the last 100 years, according to the EPA. Those still-rising temperatures encourage trees to bud and blossom ever-sooner. And it’s not just happening in D.C..

Recent years have demonstrated that Kyoto, Japan’s blossoms are shifting time tables, too, also thanks to climate change. In 2021, Kyoto’s trees experienced their earliest peak bloom in 1,200 years of record-keeping.

If you think about it too much, climate change altering the timing of cherry blossoms could get depressing. After all, fossil fuel companies’ ceaseless drive to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is impacting a whole lot more than just ornamental trees.


These types of plant shifts have troubling ecosystem and agricultural implications. What if, for instance, a plant regularly starts to bloom before its pollinators emerge? What if increasingly erratic weather brings out blossoms early but then a freeze follows—killing a wild plants’ chance at reproducing in a given year?

Plus, as climate change progresses, cherry blossom trees (and other plants) could end up more susceptible to disease. In the nation’s capital, specifically, sea level rise caused by climate change also poses a threat to some of the beloved trees, which are planted around D.C.’s Tidal Basin.

If humanity doesn’t make big changes soon, cherry blossom trees and a whole lot more could be at risk. But why focus on any of that, when you could just look at these nice flowers?

Source: Gizmodo

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