Cherry Blossoms' Peak Bloom Dates Pushed Back 5 Days

Blossoms like to keep us guessing

What to Know

  • The original forecast was for peak bloom was March 14-17.
  • But now the NPS is thinking it'll be more like March 19-22.

Early spring?

Think again!

The cherry blossoms' estimated peak bloom dates have been pushed back five days, the National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday.

Although peak bloom is impossible to predict accurately more than 10 days ahead of time, the NPS releases predictions each year. This year's bloom was initially expected for March 14-17 -- but now the NPS is thinking it'll be more like March 19-22.

That's due to the cold snap expected to zap the D.C. area this weekend.

"Using recent temperature data, the current progression of the blooming phases, and the weather forecast for the next seven days, the National Park Service is forecasting that March 19-22 will be the start of the peak bloom period for the cherry blossoms," the NPS said in a release Wednesday."...[T]he colder than originally forecast temperatures predicted for this weekend have prompted the date change."

The blossoms have been making some progress, though -- they've already reached stage 3 of 6, the NPS announced Tuesday.

Their current phase -- known as the extension of florets stage -- will be quickly followed by the most scientific-sounding phase, the peduncle elongation phase... and then the least scientific-sounding (but definitely funniest) phase, the puffy white stage.

Then it's onto peak bloom, which is when at least 70 percent of the trees around D.C.'s Tidal Basin are blossoming. Once peak bloom is reached, the blossoms can remain on the trees from four to 10 days. 

The trees reached peak bloom last year on March 25. According to the NPS website, however, peak bloom didn't happen until the second week of April from 2013 to 2015.

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival was scheduled to begin March 20, but the start date has been bumped up to March 15 to coincide with peak bloom. The festival will run until April 16, featuring fireworks, street fairs, a parade and more.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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