Cold destroys one-third of cherry blossoms, 'brilliant display' still expected

Cherry blossoms live to see another day

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - D.C.’s mid-March cold snap has killed some of the beloved cherry tree blossoms, but there will still be plenty of pink around the Tidal Basin this spring, National Mall officials assured the public Friday.

Fifty-percent of the Yoshino trees are a total loss this season because of the sustained cold temperatures. These trees are the most abundant variety of cherry trees around the Tidal Basin, making up 70 percent of the all trees maintained by the National Park Service.

This means 65 percent of the trees were not damaged and will hit peak bloom this year.

RELATED: Widespread damage reported to some cherry blossoms

“To be clear, we are in unchartered territory here,” said Mike Litterst, chief of communications with the National Mall. “This is something that has never happened in the 105-year history of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin.”

And now, we don’t know exactly when those trees will hit peak bloom. The snow and cold wiped out the scientific ways horticulturalists determine the typical four-day peak period. Instead, they’re using indicators on the trees and the weather forecast.

With all of that in mind, the Yoshino trees are expected to peak sometime next weekend into the following week, Litterst said, which would coincide with the kick off ceremony of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Other trees are expected to hit their peak April 10 to 13.

RELATED: National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule of events

One couple from Chicago planned their trip around what was supposed to be the peak bloom.

“That was the main point of our trip, but I’m not disappointed. You can still see some pink coming out, so it’s very nice.  It’s too bad we won’t be here next weekend, but I have friends who will be in D.C. and I’m sure they will see them so I’m happy for them,” they said.

While there will be fewer blooms and the color might not be as dense around the Tidal Basin, you can still expect to see plenty of pink.

“For those visitors who come every year, I think you’ll see a slight difference,” said Gay Vietzke, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “But none the less, for those who are coming for the first time or who just love this celebrating of spring here in the nation’s capital, there will be a brilliant display of the white and pink blooms.”

So, while the blossoms took a hit, we’re told the cold weather concerns had no effect on tourism. In fact, organizers with the National Cherry Blossom Festival said traffic on their website is up 20 percent from last year.

The festival started March 15 with an official opening ceremony slated for March 25th. The event wraps up April 15th.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories