The District’s beloved cherry blossoms are expected to reach peak bloom between March 27 and March 31, about a week later than initially predicted, the National Park Service announced Monday.
Cooler temperatures have kept the cherry blossoms from progressing out of the green bud phase, the first of six phases leading to peak bloom, said Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service. The original forecast was announced March 1 and predicted that the peak bloom date would fall between March 17 and March 20.
Models still show peak bloom occurring March 18, but Litterst said the math is not matching what the Park Service is seeing on the trees.
“We’ve been in the green bud stage a lot longer than we should have been at this point,” he said. “We’re woefully behind where we should be.”
“Peak bloom” refers to the day when 70 percent of the blossoms along the Tidal Basin are open. In 2016 and 2017, peak bloom was March 25, according to National Park Service records.
Last year, peak bloom was also pushed back because of unexpected cold temperatures. A cold snap killed more than half of the blossoms as they were beginning to appear, Litterst said. However, he added that this year, because they are still in the bud stage, they should be protected from freezing temperatures.
Litterst said the peak bloom date could change again before the end of March.
“Anytime that you’re dealing with something temperature dependent, you can’t get an accurate forecast beyond 10 days,” he said.