31 Mar

Best days to view cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, in 2019

Officials from the National Park Service recently moved the peak date for the Yoshino cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., forward to April 1 this year, but blooms should hold up into the first week of April.

Peak bloom is when approximately 70 percent or more of the blooms are open.

Experts originally anticipated the peak bloom to be a bit later, but by only a few days.

A few very warm days during mid-March and recent days, as well as slightly above-average temperatures over the winter, will contribute to the slightly earlier peak than average.

The average bloom date is April 4, since 1921, when the trees were gifted from Japan to the United States. However, the average bloom date has trended earlier over the years.

What will be the best weather days for the National Cherry Blossom Festival this year?

Following the warm and breezy conditions for Saturday’s Blossom Kite Festival, the weekend will end on a brisk and much cooler note.

Temperatures may fail to reach 60 F on Sunday after flirting with the 80-degree mark on Saturday. Gusty winds will create even lower AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures.

"The afternoon hours will be better to be outdoors than the morning, when showers will move through," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

The weather during the mid- to late-afternoon hours on Sunday may improve enough to allow the sun to come back out.

It is unlikely that Sunday’s rain will be heavy enough to significantly damage the blossoms, which are generally the sturdiest just prior to and during peak bloom.

As the blossom petals age past peak, they become progressively more fragile and can be more easily damaged by rain and torn away by wind.

The anticipated peak bloom is on Monday along the Tidal Basin.

Slightly cooler weather is in store for Monday with highs in the lower to middle 50s. A cool breeze can continue to blow through the first half of the day.

Temperatures will rebound slightly on Tuesday as clouds increase ahead of a storm strengthening along the Southeast coast.

Provided that storm remains far enough offshore during the middle of the week, the next chance of rain after this Sunday would be Friday, April 5.

Wednesday and Thursday would then feature warmer weather and sunny to partly cloudy conditions.

However, if that storm hugs the coast, rain and wind could result in the blossoms taking a beating on Tuesday night.

To keep an eye on the forecast, download the free AccuWeather app and enter Washington, D.C., for the forecast location.

How are bloom dates estimated?

The average air temperature is a major player in determining spring blooming time.

The accumulated number of Growing Degree Days (GDD), based on temperature, is used as a rough guide to determine the blossoming and leafing out of trees and shrubs, as well as some changes in animal behavior, according to the National Phenology Network.

The GDD for each day is calculated by taking the average of the high and low temperature for the day minus the base temperature. The base temperature varies and is dependent on the species of plant, time of the year and application.

This spring, the number of accumulated GDD with a base temperature of 32 is far above average for the Southeast and slightly above average for part of the mid-Atlantic, but below average in parts of the Northwest, Plains and Midwest.

Where the number remains steadily above average, blossoming may occur earlier than average. Where the number remains steadily below average, blossoming may occur later than average.

Other factors may affect blossom time, including soil temperature and moisture, as well as sunshine.

For example, a great number of cloudy days may keep soil temperatures colder than average and delay the blossom date.

However, a large number of cloudy nights may also result in higher temperatures at night and effect the overall daily average temperature.

As a result, a number of small factors can have significant impact on blooming dates.

When the date to the bloom gets close, experts examine the state of the buds and the weather forecast to make a final call.

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