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Peak Bloom! DC cherry blossoms hit stage 6

NPS says the cherry blossom trees hit the final stage on March 23.

WASHINGTON β€” This is not a drill, the D.C. cherry blossoms are officially in peak bloom, according to the National Park Service (NPS). 

NPS says the cherry blossom trees hit the final stage on Thursday, with temperatures climbing into the mid-70s. 

"The blossoms are open & putting on a gorgeous show," the Park Service tweeted Thursday. "We hope to see you soon."

NPS and several D.C. leaders predicted earlier this year that peak bloom would occur between March 22-25, earlier than the average historical peak date of April 4.

Here are the six stages that NPS tracks: 

  • Green bud (2/23/23)
  • Florets visible (3/1/23)
  • Extension of florets (3/7/23)
  • Peduncle elongation (3/11/23)
  • Puffy blossom (3/18/23)
  • Peak bloom (3/23/23)

Estimating peak bloom is a difficult process, keeping experts on their toes all the way up to announcement day. In 2021, peak bloom came about a week earlier than anticipated. The NPS uses a combination of temperature analyses, historical records and indicator trees to make their estimate every year.

Click here to learn more about how NPS uses indicator trees to predict peak bloom.

Weather's Influence

Weather can speed up or slow down the blooming process. Warmer weather helps the cherry blossoms bloom faster, while cold weather can slow down the growth. 

One of the earliest peak blooms was March 15, 1990, and due to cold weather, one of the latest was April 18, 1958. 

When NPS announced the blossoms had reached stage one on Feb. 23, several parts of the DMV recorded record high temperatures, with Reagan National Airport hitting 81 degrees. However, the warm weather didn't last long, with temps dropping the next day to a high of 56 and a low of 31. 

When we get a warm-up followed by a late freeze, it can prove detrimental to the cherry blossoms. Such was the case in 2017, when a late freeze between March 14-17 killed nearly half of the cherry blossoms. Peak bloom was March 25 that year.  

What to know about the 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival

Officials say the festival celebrating Japanese culture and international friendship will be held from March 20 through April 16, 2023, in the District. Mickey and Minnie Mouse will also make an appearance at the upcoming festival. They are expected to travel all the way from Walt Disney to serve as grand marshals for the parade. 

Bloom Cam

For anyone who can't make it out the blossoms in person, there's always the Bloom Cam! The Trust for the National Mall partnered with Earth Cam to continuously stream a live view of the National Mall Tidal Basin from the roof of the Salamander DC. 

WATCH NEXT: Protecting our cherry blossoms | It's A DC Thing

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