Talk about late bloomers. D.C.’s cherry blossoms finally started to show their florets on April 1, making this the first time since at least 1992 that blossom florets have not already been showing.
According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s website, the cherry blossoms finally started showing their florets on Wednesday, an unusually late time as they usually come out in late February and early March.
Florets are an indication that the flowers will be in full bloom in 16 to 21 days. Before fully blooming, the florets will extend until flower buds begin to poke out. At this point, peak bloom is about two to three weeks away. But this year, full bloom could be much later than any other year on record.
NCBF’s website shows the current record for the latest full bloom period for D.C.’s cherry blossoms was in 1993 when the flowers weren’t fully bloomed until April 11. This year, however, the blossoms could reach peak bloom by mid- to late-April.
Oddly enough, it was only three years ago that news reports were suggesting cherry blossoms could be blooming during winter because of global warming. That year, the blossoms came early: florets were visible on March 8 and the blossoms were in bloom from March 18 to March 26.
The Washington Post reported in 2012 that according to “the more dire global warming scenario the scientists used — one with unchecked global population growth — the District’s cherry trees could be blooming 29 days earlier by 2080 and 13 days earlier by 2050.”
“A less severe scenario, with eventually declining population, had the trees blooming 10 days earlier by 2080 and five days earlier by 2050,” the Post reported.
But it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the cherry blossoms are coming late this year. This March was a cold one for D.C., as well as snowy and rainy. The Post’s Capital Weather Gang notes that this is the third March in a row that was cooler than average. In contrast, March 2012 was the warmest on record for the District, sparking an early bloom period.
“Colder than normal temperatures, above normal snow, and above normal precipitation were recorded at all three area stations,” CWG notes. The year “2015 ended up being the 74th coolest March in the record back to the late 1800s.”