DC Cherry Blossom Festival: Extended Cold, Snow May Delay Peak

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
March 20, 2014; 12:06 AM ET
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Cherry blossoms provide the perfect backdrop for a photo of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Lillian Iversen)

As the winter of '13-'14 comes to an end, the recent snow and cold may postpone the peak bloom for the nation's famous cherry trees in Washington, D.C.

Japan gave more than 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. This gift sparked the creation one of the nation's biggest festivals, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., which began in 1927.

"On average, the peak bloom is about April 4, but that, of course, depends on the weather," the Communications Manager for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Danielle Davis, said.

Cherry blossom trees adorn the walkway along the Potomac River, providing a scenic spring view for visitors. (Photo/Buddy Secor).

The peak bloom date is the day in which at least 70 percent of the blossoms on the trees are open, while the blooming period is when 20 percent of the blossoms are open until the petals appear then fall off, according to the National Park Service. The bloom period starts a few days before the peak and can last up to two weeks.

This year, the peak bloom of the cherry trees is expected to be similar to last year's timeline but later than the normal bloom due to the colder winter air gripping the city this year, according to Davis. This year's peak bloom period is anticipated to be April 8 to 12, 2014.

With more than 1.5 million people expected to attend the festival, the 2014 National Cherry Blossom festival will begin Thursday, March 20, 2014.

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The festival will kick off with its annual opening ceremony on Saturday, March 22, 2014, which will highlight both Japanese and American musical artists.

Mild weather will grace the ceremony, as spectators gather this weekend to celebrate. However, those attending should bring a rain jacket or umbrella due to the possibility of a few showers during the afternoon.

Dancers pose during the National Cherry Blossom Parade on April 13, 2013. (Photo/Ron Engle)

Following the opening ceremony, the festival will host a slew of events over its 25-day celebration, including a pink tie party fundraiser, family museum days at the National Building Museum, a kite festival, fireworks, a Japanese street festival and the famous National Cherry Blossom Parade.

Airing nationally this year, the parade will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2014, along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th streets northwest. The parade will feature multiple celebrities, award-winners and marching bands from across the nation.

Luckily, it looks like the weather will cooperate for this year's parade with highs in the mid-60s.

"It looks like a fairly typical April pattern," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

While the weather looks to be optimal for the long-anticipated festival, visitors and residents will have to wait a bit longer this year for the actual bloom of the historic cherry blossom trees.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.


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