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The cherry blossoms in Washington are in bloom


The National Park Service announced that Washington’s cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin reached their peak on Thursday.

Peak bloom occurs when 70 percent of the cherry tree buds bloom. Each year, the trees – which were a gift from Japan in 1912 – attract huge crowds.

Once peak bloom occurs, the blossoms may remain on the trees for about a week if the weather is mild and the wind is light. But some years petals fall off sooner due to wind, rain or frost.

The weather should generally be favorable to see the blossoms over the weekend, although some rain and gusts of wind from Friday to Saturday may remove some of the petals.

Meredith Brown, 25, drove about four hours from Raleigh, NC, to see the trees begin to bloom. She visited the Tidal Basin with a group of friends and took pictures on Monday. There weren’t many people around and the sky was clear. Most of the trees were not yet in full bloom, but the sight was “wonderland-like,” she said.

“I feel like we got lucky,” said Brown. She added that she plans to see it for another year.

In coordination with the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the National Cherry Blossom Festival started on Monday. It lasts until April 16 with more than 30 events, including a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, a kite festival on Sunday, and an April parade.

Everything you need to know about the National Cherry Blossom Festival

The excitement over the blossoming trees was evident all over the city in anticipation this week. Dozens of restaurants have announced special menu items centering on cherry blossoms, and some DC Metro cars and buses are covered in cherry blossom decals.

The peak bloom date of March 23 is tied to 1946 and 1976 as the 9th earliest in records dating back to 1921.

Due to climate change and rising temperatures, the average peak bloom date has shifted from April 5 to March 31 since the 1920s.

The earliest recorded peak bloom occurred on March 15, 1990, and the latest on April 18, 1958.

Peak bloom has occurred before March 31 in each of the past four years; last year’s peak bloom was on March 21, the 8th earliest on record.

This year’s cherry blossom buds have accelerated their first stages of development due to abnormally warm temperatures in February and early March. Their progress was slowed by the colder weather in mid-March, but the return of the sun and mild weather in recent days pushed them to Thursday’s peak.

This year’s peak bloom falls within the March 22-25 window predicted by the National Park Service. It is earlier than the Capital Weather Gang’s original forecast for March 25-29, but within the revised March 19-23 window.

The blossoms were in stage 5 on Saturday — known as “puffy white” — meaning most of the blooms were about to open.

Alan Randall showed his five-week-old daughter Davina Randall the cherry blossoms for the first time on Friday. She wore a white onesie that read “Little Blossom” as he and his wife rode around the flowering trees at Hains Point in southwest Washington. Some trees were just starting to bloom and there were hardly any people around, he said.

The Randalls scheduled Friday as their official cherry blossom visit of the year, as they wanted to avoid the large crowds that turned out for the peak bloom. They plan to visit again next year.

“It was a great start to a family tradition that really captures the spirit of DC,” said Randall, 29.

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