“If you can come in, that's the time you want to come,” he said. “People coming in and planning around April 4 , the average [peak bloom date], I don’t know. . . . We may be looking at a 10-day bloom this year, whereas normally we could get up to 14 or 15.”
DeFeo said with the higher temperatures, especially at night, the blooming process is going 24/7, instead of slowing in the cooler evening hours. “They are moving,” DeFeo said of the blossoms. DeFeo had provided Kim with the Park Service’s tree data.
Many trees around the Tidal Basin on Wednesday bore fat buds, but there were plenty with the delicate white blossoms in full bloom.
It’s “very, very early” for the blooms, said Ellen Zelano of Falls Church, who was at the basin with her husband, Tony, on a day more like summer than late winter. “We have a condo in Fort Lauderdale,” Tony Zelano said. “It’s warmer here today than it is there.”
DeFeo said he been talking this week with the crews that care for the cherry trees.
“They said . . . they were working on a tree, and from the time they started . . . to the time they left, some of the buds . . . came out, when none were open when they started,” he said. “Basically you’re almost watching it” happen, over the course of a day.
He said of Kim’s global warming report: “They’re in a cerebral area that’s so far out from me that I can’t even intelligently comment on it.”
A spokeswoman said the Cherry Blossom Festival was not familiar with the report.
DeFeo noted that other scientists have already theorized that global warming might be behind the advance of bloom periods during the last 30 years or so.
Indeed, in 2000 Smithsonian scientists reported that the cherry trees were then blooming about a week earlier than they had in 1970, probably because of global warming.
DeFeo said there’s no way to prove the future warming impact right or wrong.
He added in an e-mail: “We’ll see in 2080.”