Cherry trees at the Tidal Basin have a mix of healthy, developing blossoms (left inset) and dead blossoms (right inset) as of March 20, 2017. (Kevin Ambrose)

To track the blossom bloom, every week I’ll post a photo of the cherry tree (above) at the Tidal Basin as we transition from winter to spring. This is the fifth week of such posts. Here’s the post from week one, the post from week two, the post from week three, and the post from week four.


There are plenty of healthy cherry buds and developing blossoms at the Tidal Basin that survived the freeze. But more than half of the fully-developed Yoshino cherry blossoms were destroyed by the freeze. Ideally, the healthy buds will bloom soon and mask the dead flowers. That is the “peak bloom” we hope for, now.

At first glance Monday morning, the Tidal Basin cherry trees looked bad. Brown, dead blossoms filled the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin’s western shoreline. The scene reminded me of the frozen magnolias two weeks ago at Constitution Gardens.

But hidden beneath the brown cherry blossoms are thousands of healthy buds that should bloom this weekend into early next week, so we won’t have to wait long.


Brown, dead blossoms fill some of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. Many of these trees still have healthy buds which should produce more blossoms, March 20, 2017. (Kevin Ambrose)

The initial cherry blossom bloom actually began over a week ago at the Tidal Basin but was halted by an extended period of frigid weather accompanied by an ice and snowstorm. This weekend, when the weather finally warms up, we hope to have a second bloom — the peak bloom — which will fill the Tidal Basin with beautiful blossoms. But they have to make it through one more freeze Wednesday night.

It has been a strange winter for the nation’s favorite cherry trees. February was extremely warm (warmest on record in Washington) which pushed the trees out of hibernation and into blossom-bursting mode. But even though this process began in late February, by the second week of March, the trees were in a wide variety of blossom stages.  Then after the freezes of last week, we now have an even wider variety of stages, from florets visible to dead blossoms.  It’s unlike any bloom in recent memory, or possibly even recorded blossom history at the Tidal Basin.


There are many healthy, developing blossoms at the Tidal Basin that are ready to bloom, March 20, 2017. (Kevin Ambrose)

The temperatures are forecasted to fall into the mid-to-upper 20s Wednesday night which may damage a few more mature blossoms. But after the chill of this week subsides, spring returns this weekend, probably for good!

The surviving buds and blossoms will burst out this weekend into next week so check them out at the Tidal Basin.  This is one historic bloom you don’t want to miss.  We’ll be talking about it for many years to come!


Some of the developing blossoms have suffered after a week of ice and cold weather.  The top photo is from March 14 and the bottom photos is from March 20. (Kevin Ambrose)

Shades of brown and pink fill the trees along the Tidal Basin, March 20. The  hope is that the developing buds will blossom this weekend and completely cover the brown blossoms. (Kevin Ambrose)

A mix of healthy and slightly damaged buds, March 20. (Kevin Ambrose)

An example of more severely damaged blossoms from the freeze, March 20. (Kevin Ambrose)

A wide view of the Tidal Basin showing brown and pink color in the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin, March 20. (Kevin Ambrose)

Cherry blossoms in the ice and snow last week, March 14, 2017. (Kevin Ambrose)

The developing blossoms a week ago, March 14, 2017. (Kevin Ambrose)

More cherry blossom coverage

Don’t panic!  The cherry blossoms survived better than expected

Can the cherry blossoms survive this cold, snowy week?

D.C.’s cherry blossoms face the perfect storm

Some cherry trees may be a week from peak bloom

Cherry blossom forecast: Peak bloom may be record early this year

Tracking the cherry blossoms to full bloom — Week one

The warmer winter means cherry blossoms will peak early

Tracking blossoms to full bloom — what a difference a year makes

All Capital Weather Gang cherry blossom posts