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An early bloom peak is likely for the Centennial National Cherry Blossom Festival

Carrie Rose 2010 Cherry Blossoms

PHOTO: Carrie Rose 2010 Cherry Blossoms

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – On the Centennial Celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., blooms are expected to peak early, according to the National Park Service. The expected peak bloom period has been bumped up earlier again to March 20 to March 23, with the peak blossoms beginning as early as March 18.  In an earlier forecast this month, Rob DeFeo, chief horticulturist at the National Park Service, predicted an earlier-than-normal peak bloom of March 22. The National Park Service defines peak bloom as “the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open.”  The average peak bloom day is April 4, but the blooming period can last as long as two weeks if you can’t be there for the exact peak date.  Even though this Winter has been milder for the D.C area, DeFeo says this is not impacting an early bloom. “It really only matters as to what happens from now on,” DeFeo said at a Newseum press conference March 1.

The 2012 festival is the 100-year anniversary of when Tokyo, Japan gave 3,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C. as a sign of friendship between the United States and Japan. You can learn more about the history of this gift by clicking here. This year’s festival will be held March 20 through April 27, and many of the buildings in D.C. will be illuminated in pink to celebrate the Centennial.

The trees this year began showing green buds on February 29. You can watch the progression of the blooms on the National Park Service Cherry Blossom Camera here. And keep up with the latest Bloom Watch here.

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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