It turns out that a mild winter is the gift that keeps on giving. The National Park Service has bumped up dates for the cherry blossoms' peak blooming period.
Two weeks ago, expert bloom predictor Rob DeFeo said to expect maximum gorgeousness between March 24 and 31. Today, though, DeFeo revised those dates to March 20-23, with blooming beginning around March 18.
The blooming period is defined as the point when 20 percent of blossoms are open.
"It is pretty much impossible to give an accurate forecast much more than 10 days before the peak bloom," the NPS told News4's Tracee Wilkins. Horticulturists monitor different stages of bud development, and provide forecasts as needed.
For 2012, the gloriousness has developed as follows:
- Green color in buds: Feb. 29
- Florets visible: March 8
- Extension of florets: March 12
- Peduncle elongation: March 14 (predicted)
The final two phases are puffy white and peak bloom.
Due to this winter's balmy temps, the bloom is expected earlier than the average of April 4. Unusually warm or cold temps affect the blooming, with the earliest on March 15 (1990), and the latest on April 18 (1958).
ABOUT THE TREES:
- Most trees are of the Yoshino cherry variety, which sprouts white blooms. These rock stars of spring encircle the Tidal Basin and head north onto the grounds of the Washington Monument.
- The Kwanzan cherry trees, featuring clear pink double blossoms, generally come into bloom about two weeks later. These are primarily in East Potomac Park.
- The Weeping Japanese Cherry trees (sometimes called Higan Cherry) come into bloom about one week before the Yoshinos. These trees are interspersed among the others, with variable blossoms (single and double), and colors ranging from dark pink to white.
There are several other varieties among the 3,770 trees, including Uusuzumi Cherry, Sargent Cherry and Snow Goose. About one hundred remain from Japan's original 1912 gift.
Nine other original trees have been transplanted to other locations in the city.