Cherry blossoms reach peak bloom around the Tidal Basin, but storms threaten petals

The Yoshino cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in D.C. sped their way to beak bloom on Sunday, the National Park Service announced.

The trees took just four days to go from stage 4 — also known as “peduncle elongation” — to peak bloom. The Park Service attributed their speedy development to the warmer-than-average temperatures the region has experienced in the past week.

However, Sunday’s storms could bring the majestic sight to an early end. The blossoms are fairly delicate, and strong enough winds could send the newly-formed petals flying.

“Any times those petals are out, we want to avoid high winds, we want to avoid heavy rains — certainly both of those are possible with the storms that are perhaps on the horizon…” National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst told WTOP.

He said the heavy rains on Sunday morning did not affect the trees too much.

“One thing we’ve got going for is that it is early enough in peak bloom — those petals, those blossoms are brand new, they’re as strong as they’re going to be,” Litterst said. “They may be able to withstand some wind, some rain that they may not be able to four or five days from now.”

Even if the blossoms make it through Sunday’s stormy weather, they wouldn’t be out of the woods just yet, according to Litterst. He said the below-freezing temperatures forecasted for Thursday night could also negatively impact the trees.

For the latest weather updates, listen live to WTOP’s weather reports on the 8s.

The National Park Service has urged people not to crowd the Basin due to the ongoing pandemic, though that did not stop people from making the trek out on Saturday, when the blossoms hit the puffy white stage.

Those who haven’t had a chance to make it to the Tidal Basin, but still want to see the blossoms, can check them out on the BloomCam.

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Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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