WASHINGTON — Good news: The cherry blossoms in D.C. are in peak bloom! The National Park Service shared the status of the cherry blossom trees on Sunday. Peak bloom happened just a few days before the expected peak bloom dates, which were April 2-5.
Warmer temperatures over the last few days have helped the trees blossom.
We'll now watch the weather as a cold snap in the coming week could damage the cherry blossoms if temperatures get below 32 degrees. Overnight lows in the 30s are forecast Thursday night and Friday night.
In a recap of the blooming process, the trees reached stage 5: puffy white on Saturday, March 27. The trees reached stage four: peduncle elongation -- where the stalks bearing the blossom buds extend and the flowers become visible, on Thursday.
On March 22, the cherry blossoms reached stage 3 of the blooming process: florets extended. Stage 2 of the blooming process happened on March 16: florets visible. On March 11, the cherry blossoms reached stage one of the blooming process: green buds.
Peak bloom is when 70% of the Yoshino Cherry (or Prunus x yedoensis) is open. Every year, the National Park Service tracks the six stages, ending with "peak bloom."
They are green buds, florets visible, an extension of florets, peduncle elongation, puffy white and peak bloom.
Weather can speed up or slow down the blooming process. Warmer weather helps the cherry blossoms bloom faster.
One of the earliest blooms was March 15, 1990, according to the National Park Service. And due to cold weather, one of the latest blooms was April 18, 1958.
Recently highs have topped out in the 70s in DC, helping the blooming process.
When we get a warm-up followed by a late freeze it can prove detrimental to the cherry blossoms. Such was the case four years ago. In 2017, a late freeze between March 14-17, killed nearly half of the cherry blossoms.
Peak bloom was March 25 that year.
2021 Cherry Blossom Festival
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, up to 1.5 million people would visit the Tidal Basin to view the cherry blossoms. Organizers of the Cherry Blossom Festival have unveiled a hybrid plan for the Cherry Blossom Festival in 2021.
This plan includes a one-hour nationally syndicated television show; 20 large, vibrant cherry blossom sculptures displayed in dozens of locations throughout the city; and locally curated community experiences that focus on music, cuisine and visual arts presentations.