The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Winter’s final Saturday showed signs of cold weather

But blossoms are just one step from peak bloom, Park Service says

2 min

Saturday was the last Saturday in astronomical winter, and as thoughts turned toward spring, it seemed that we could already see more cherry blossom petals in a day than we saw snowflakes all winter.

Without poring over detailed charts and analyses, it seemed as if Shakespeare’s “winter of our discontent” may have mainly afflicted those Washington residents who pine for the sight of snow and cherish the look of it upon our landscape.

Otherwise, the number of blossom petals visible Saturday might seem somehow comparable, at least in a symbolic sense, to the relatively few snowflakes observed in Washington this winter.

True, peak bloom has yet to arrive, according to the National Park Service. But on the other hand, we are yet to amass more than a half inch of snow, and it is getting late to acquire more.

So in a way, Saturday seemed poised at an important cultural turning point. It was a perhaps slightly blurred boundary between winter (which started on the solstice in December and ends on Monday with the equinox) and the full bloom of the fabled blossoms.

To many, that event signifies a psychological if not meteorological start of spring.

Saturday certainly showed a chilly side, particularly to early risers, who on outdoor forays could justifiably claim to feel winter in our wind-chilled fingertips.

To give the day its due, in the early hours, Saturday flaunted other shivery attributes.

Just before 10 a.m., for example, the mercury had climbed no higher than 44 degrees. On looking aloft, the National Weather Service spotted enough gray and white impediments to sunshine to describe our skies as mostly cloudy.

And as if to emphasize how nearly our morning did in fact mirror wintry conditions, a northwest wind gusted to 22 mph. The “feels like” temperature stood at 37 degrees.

However, a single day includes many parts, and may seem more than the mere arithmetical sum of all of them. Thus, it seemed possible that the ubiquitous brilliance of the mid-March sun appeared above us enough to create a single overwhelming impression.

So, too, did the burgeoning buds on tree branches, that added a kind of haze to distant vistas.

The mercury rose in the afternoon to 54 degrees in Washington. That was getting warmer, but still three degrees cooler than the March 18 average.

At the Tidal Basin, the Park Service tweeted that the “blossoms are starting to show” and were “puffy white.” “Next stop,” the Park Service said “is peak bloom!” And for many of us, spring!