Cherry Blossoms in Washington
Though I often tell my clients I’m horticulturally challenged, over twenty years of living in Washington and seven as a professional guide, there has been an abundance of knowledge gained regarding the area’s biggest spring attraction.
No one can predict true peek cherry blossom until about five to seven days out (although the National Park Service releases a fair estimate about four weeks out.) That’s due to the number of weather factors that can affect when the bloom starts, when it peeks, and when the blossoms fall:
Rain: This is the biggest factor. The more rain or heavy rain experienced in the spring while the blossoms are on the tree will affect the length of the bloom. The blossoms get heavy if water logged and may prematurely fall if there’s a lot of rain.
Wind: For the same reason as rain, a long sustained wind will cause a premature fall.
Temperature: Cold temperatures rarely affect the blossoms. The temperature would have to fall below 28F (-2C) for a sustained period while the blossoms are up for it to reduce the length of bloom. However, the warmer it is in earlier March, those higher than normal temperatures may cause an early bloom.
Peek bloom is defined in Washington as the day when 70% of the trees surrounding the Tidal Basin (pictured) have opened their buds. Peek often lasts for three to five days. The average date for peek bloom is April 4th but as discussed above, Mother Nature has a say. I have seen peek as early as March 20th and as late as April 6th. The bloom can last from seven to fourteen days. So if you are scheduling your visit to Washington between March 25th and April 5th, you’re guaranteed to see some blossoms.
Not to be outdone, once cherry blossom season ends, the dogwoods start to bloom in the region. Dogwoods (a two-month season) will be the focus of our next blog essay.