Washington’s famed cherry blossoms have hit their prime.
The National Park Service declared that the blossoms reached peak bloom Monday, meaning 70 percent of the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin are fully flowering.
Depending on the weather, peak bloom can last between a few days and seven to 10 days.
In a stroke of good fortune, conditions seem to be aligning for an extended peak bloom period this year, which could last into the coming weekend and maybe longer.
After a toasty Saturday in which temperatures soared to 79 degrees, the strong cold front that swept through Sunday has ushered in chilly weather. The cold weather slows the flowering process, extending the period of peak bloom.
Although the blossoms can be damaged if temperatures drop below 28, the minimum temperatures through Wednesday should fall only to the low to mid-30s — chilling but not freezing the blossoms.
Other factors that can shorten the bloom period include strong winds, rain or very warm temperatures, but none should be a factor.
Sunday’s strong winds hit when the blossoms were early enough in their flowering stage (considered “puffy white”) that they were still fairly well secured.
The blossoms may dodge another bullet late Tuesday when a coastal storm tracks far enough east so any showers are light enough that the petals remain mostly intact.
Sunny, calm weather is expected Wednesday and Thursday, making for excellent blossom spectating conditions. After another period of light rain Friday, it is not out of the question that some blossoms will remain in bloom next weekend.
Temperatures later this week should climb well into the 60s, perhaps eclipsing 70 over the weekend, but that’s not warm enough to cause the blossoms to wilt.
In other words, weather this year could not be much better for a lengthy bloom period.
This year’s April 1 peak bloom is very close to average date over the past 30 years of March 31. Last year, peak bloom occurred April 5.
The April 1 peak bloom is within the window the Capital Weather Gang predicted in early March.
Photos from Kevin Ambrose
Capital Weather Gang photographer Kevin Ambrose walked around the Tidal Basin late Sunday afternoon with his camera gear, shooting scenes of blossoms, people, dogs and ducks.
The weather provided a mixed blossom-viewing experience.
While Saturday’s warmth drew a tremendous crowd, the number of visitors thinned Sunday as a cold front brought early rain and then a blustery afternoon.
Ambrose selected a few of his favorite photos from his Sunday shoot for this post, including a short video showing the blustery conditions with blossoms and gulls. He also included several views of winter vs. spring at the Tidal Basin and compared the blossom scene with views from the Jan. 13 snowstorm.