RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – If this were 80 years ago in DC, this year’s “late-blooming” cherry trees would not be late to the party at all! This year is closer to when peak bloom used to be.
National Park Service (NPS) records of thousands of trees in DC show that peak bloom now occurs five days earlier than it did 80 years ago. When you compare the average peak date for cherry blossoms from 1931-1960 (it was April 6) to the new average peak date from 1981-2010 (it’s now April 1), you can see the earlier bloom trend.
This year is a perfect example of year-to-year variability that will always happen, even within an overall warming trend. This winter was a long, cool one for the DC area, which delayed the budding of the trees. As of April 7, the NPS documented the trees at “puffy white” stage, which is the final phase before peak bloom (which officially occurred April 10, 2014, according to the NPS). You can check the bloom schedule for this year and previous years here.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival ends this Sunday, April 13.
Watch the blossoming cherry trees in DC at this live Earth Cam stream.
In Japan, where the cherry trees came from, they’ve been having cherry blossom festivals for more than a thousand years. With such a long bloom record, there is evidence that their date of peak blooming has also shifted earlier. Check out one of those studies here.
If you visit the DC festival this year, take pictures and share them with me!