Comparing buds at the Tidal Basin from March 13, 2015 (left) to March 13, 2016 (right). (Kevin Ambrose)

It’s hard to imagine that last year at this point, we were still in the thick of winter. The Tidal Basin was locked in ice until the middle of March and the cherry blossoms didn’t peak until April 10 — two days before the festival ended.

This year, the mild weather we’ve experienced in early March has sped the development of the cherry tree buds. Forecasts predict peak bloom to occur between March 18 and 28. The National Park Service forecast is on the early end of the range, and our forecast is on the later end.

As of Sunday, buds on some of the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin were beginning to burst open with visible pink florets. The National Park Service officially categorized Sunday’s blossoms as “florets visible.” They could be looking good by next weekend!

All of the photos were taken on March 13, 2015 and March 13, 2016. What a difference a year makes!


Thick ice covered the Tidal Basin on March 13, 2015 (top) compared to a thawed and choppy Tidal Basin on March 13, 2016 (bottom). (Kevin Ambrose)

Ice on the Tidal Basin March 13, 2015 (left), and the surface of the Tidal Basin March 13, 2016 (right). (Kevin Ambrose)

A frozen Tidal Basin in 2015 (top) compared to the Tidal Basin in 2016 (bottom). The photos were taken a year apart. Note the difference in the buds on the tree and how the grass has grown this year compared to 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

The cherry blossoms steal the show in Washington, D.C. but the magnolias are also beautiful and they are currently in bloom. Magnolias often bloom about a week or two ahead of the cherry trees.  This photo was taken March 13, 2016 at Constitution Gardens. (Kevin Ambrose)

Related:

We predict the cherry blossoms to peak early

NPS bloom watch 2016

Tracking the 2015 cherry blossoms: The perfect peak