It's Happening! (Well, Soon…) Cherry Blossoms Reach Phase 3 of 6

However, peak bloom dates have been pushed back a bit

D.C. is on the verge of spring -- and there's no better barometer than the status of the city's cherry blossoms (except maybe your allergies).

The blossoms are already at stage 3 of 6, the National Park Service (NPS) revealed Tuesday, although a cold snap expected this weekend has pushed back the dates of peak bloom, the NPS announced a day later.

The blossoms' current phase -- known as the extension of florets stage -- will be 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 now predicted for March 19-22. 

Peak bloom means 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 initially scheduled to begin March 20. Turns out that would have been a fine start date -- but back when the NPS made its inital forecast of peak bloom for March 14-17, the festival's start date was bumped up to March 15.

The festival will run until April 16, featuring fireworks, street fairs, a parade and more.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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