As DC cherry blossom peak bloom looms, group launches online camera for viewers

Cyclists ride past the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2020. The Trust for the National Mall will be making a cherry blossom webcam available as the flowers reach their peak later this month. (WTOP/Dan Friedell)

To avoid the spread of the coronavirus, things such as classes and tours of national parks are going online. The cherry blossoms in D.C. aren’t excluded.

Instead of heading to the Tidal Basin, you can view the cherry blossoms from your computer screen. In advance of peak bloom, the Trust for The National Mall said it has started a Bloom Cam, a live camera where the blossoms can be viewed.

The camera will provide a 24/7 digital view of the Tidal Basin as it erupts in a mosaic of pinks and whites.

“People do come from all over, and with all the latest precautions and self quarantines, it’s been encouraged to not come down. So we wanted to be able to bring the blooms to people across the country,” said Catherine Townsend, president and CEO of the trust.

Townsend said the nonprofit, which partners with the National Park Service to organize private support for the National Mall, teamed up with Earthcam to bring virtual visitors to the Tidal Basin.

The camera’s launch comes as people are urged not to visit the Tidal Basin because of the virus.

“An iconic symbol of Washington D.C. [are] the cherry blossoms, so it’s just really a sad time that the festival had to shut down many of its activities,” Townsend said.

Townsend said it took a week to set the camera up, and throughout its run, the trust plans to change the view to give visitors more angles of the Tidal Basin and its 3,700 cherry trees.

Peak bloom could come as early as Friday.

Metro closed two stations Thursday to prevent tourists visiting the cherry blossoms from crowding stations, it said.

For those who still plan to come down to see them in person, the National Park Service encourages people to make smart decisions and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of trees around the Tidal Basin.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

Cyclists ride past the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2020. The Smithsonian will be making a cherry blossom webcam available as the flowers reach their peak later this month. (WTOP/Dan Friedell)
At the Tidal Basin on Thursday, there were moderate crowds despite the pandemic and warnings from public officials. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
A man wears a mask while walking around the Tidal Basin on Thursday. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
There were moderate crowds at the Tidal Basin on Thursday.
(WTOP/Dave Dildine)
A woman wearing a mask stops to read coronavirus safety tips along an almost empty Tidal Basin lined with cherry blossoms that are about to peak, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
With the Washington Monument in the background, people run by cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, March 18, 2020, in Washington.
University of Washington freshman Byron Chen walks on the campus among the nearly 30 cherry trees nearing their peak bloom Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Seattle. The school is asking people to avoid coming to campus this year to comply with orders prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people during the spread of COVID-19. The “Somei-yoshino” variety are particularly striking when they reach full bloom because unlike many other flowering tree species, their white-pink blossoms bloom before the leaves start filling in.
Usually crowded cherry tree-lined Tidal Basin walkways are nearly empty of visitors in this moment, days before peak bloom, amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 17, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Paul Morigi)
Rep. Jody Arrington, R-Texas, plays catch with his children under cherry blossom blooms in front of the Supreme Court, Tuesday March 17 , 2020, in Washington. (AP/Steve Helber)
The Lincoln Memorial is visible as Cherry Blossoms begin to bloom near the base of the Washington Monument on the National Mall, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
cherry blossom
Cherry blossoms in the puffy white stage on Wednesday, March 17, 2020. (WTOP/Darci Marchese)
Michaella Pratt and her children Preston Pratt, 6, Aubrey Pratt, 4, from Arlington, Va., use their time with school closing because of the coronavirus outbreak, to visit the near-empty Tidal Basin in Washington, Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Cherry Blossoms are about to peak at an almost empty Tidal Basin, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. Tourists usually flock to Washington and crowd around the area when cherry blossom trees starts to bloom. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
A family visits the cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Washington. Several events, including the parade, that are part of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival have been canceled due to coronavirus precautions. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
A small amount of cherry blossoms have begun to bloom along the Tidal Basin at East Potomac Park, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
cherry blossom
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