Normally, the cherry blossoms attract 1.5 million visitors, but much smaller numbers are anticipated this year.
On Friday morning, as the blossoms hit peak, the live stream showed a steady flow of visitors but much lighter crowds than usual.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs March 20 to April 12, canceled all events including the April 4 parade.
Abnormally warm weather during late winter and early spring propelled the blossoms to the early bloom, some 11 days ahead of the 30-year average of March 31 and two weeks ahead of the longer-term (1921 to 2019) average of April 3.
By definition, peak bloom occurs when 70 percent of the cherry trees are flowering.
Once peak bloom is reached, the blossom petals can remain for a week or so if it’s dry and winds are light. But in some years, petals have fallen off sooner because of wind, rain or frost.
This year, the best blossom viewing is probably between Friday and Sunday, although breezy conditions into the weekend may result in some loss of petals. On Saturday night, there’s an outside chance of frost, but temperatures should remain above freezing and the risk of damage or significant wilting is small.
By Sunday night and Monday, steady rain is expected, which may end the peak bloom period.
Due to the unusual warmth, peak bloom occurred on the early side of predictions.