BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Technically, D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, a spring tradition, was supposed to start today.
But we’ve had anything but springlike weather these past few days, and the cold temperatures, ice and snow have taken their toll on the festival’s namesake.
An inspection of the Japanese trees, done Wednesday morning by the National Park Service, shows that there is widespread damage in blossoms that had already reached the fifth stage (out of six stages) of the bloom cycle.
“Because the blossoms are so close to peak bloom and are exposed from the protection of the buds, they are particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures right now,” a news release states. “Cherry blossoms start to sustain damage when temperatures hit 27 degrees; at 24 degrees, up to 90% of exposed blossoms can be affected. Temperatures hit the critical 27 degree mark just before midnight last night, and remained below that level as of 10 a.m this morning, including a five hour stretch at or below 24 degrees. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 20s again for the next two nights.”
Peak bloom of the cherry trees is still expected to occur within the projected March 19-22 window, but the number of cherry trees that reach the blossom stage may be reduced.
Also worth noting: The festival’s opening day will now be Saturday, instead of today, because the snow is affecting the set up.