Like everyone else in Washington DC, the cherry blossoms are ready to jump ship.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which attracts 1.5 million people annually, runs through April 15. However, the peak bloom -- the day when 70% of the area's Yoshino Cherry Blossoms are open around the Tidal Basin -- is likely to come earlier than in previous years. The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the cherry blossoms are expected to reach peak bloom from March 17 through March 20. That's in part due to a hotter-than-average February. Under normal conditions, peak bloom arrives sometime during the last week of March or the first week of April in the nation's capital.
Though, the NPS notes on the site that projecting peak bloom is notoriously difficult. "Forecasting peak bloom is almost impossible more than 10 days in advance," the site reads. "The cherry trees' blossom development is dependent on weather conditions, which are inherently variable."
The blooms of a cherry blossom last about two weeks from first bloom to falling off the tree. So, it's a relatively narrow window when you can see the trees in full bloom if the blooms even last that long. Michael Stachowicz, a National Park Service horticulturalist, tells WTOP that once the six-part process of blooming has begun, the trees are vulnerable to a freeze, which could cut the peak bloom short.
An early bloom last year met freezing temperatures and killed off about half the blossoms before peak blossom even arrived. That's a good reminder that the NPS does a great job, but there are many variables capable of throwing off their forecast.
The current projection is a good target, but it's worth keeping tabs on the bloom to make sure you're not planning a disaster of a weekend where you only see like 61% of the trees in bloom. That'd be horrible. (It'd still be pretty great.)