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Possible cold temps and storms could impact peak bloom duration

The cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin have entered peak bloom. How long they stay in that stage depends on the weather.

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service (NPS) is keeping an eye on storms in the region that could impact the popular cherry blossom trees in D.C. The cold can be a problem too. It's possible D.C. could experience freezing temperatures overnight, and later this week.

National Mall NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst says peak bloom's duration depends a lot on the weather.

"That's something we really don't like to see once the blossoms are out," said Litterst. "It can prematurely kill the blossoms."

It's important to remember that that's only a possibility at this point. Weather can change and its impacts on plant life can be hard to predict with certainty.

DC's famous cherry blossoms are now officially in peak bloom, NPS announced Sunday.

"Once those petals are out, the last thing we want to see is high winds, heavy rain...severe weather that will bring the blossoms to the ground prematurely," said Litterst.

RELATED: Spring thunderstorms Sunday may bring wind damage, isolated tornadoes

Credit: WUSA

Still, even the possibility of unwelcome weather didn't dampen spirits at the Tidal Basin Sunday morning.

Ashley Mattison and her daughters braved a steady rain to walk the path under the cherry blossom trees.

"We've come every year since they were little bitty toddlers, so we didn't want to miss it this year just because of the rain," said mom from Silver Spring.

Julia Belcher hit the Tidal Basin path early in the morning too.

"It's a beautiful morning despite the rain. I love it. It's the perfect time to be out," she said as precipitation pelted her umbrella. "[I] don't mind getting wet like the ducks."

Due to COVID concerns, NPS encourages people to check out the cherry blossoms online at the Bloom Cam.

In-person visitors are still allowed at the Tidal Basin, but NPS says it's closely monitoring crowds there. 

RELATED: National Park Service limits access to Tidal Basin during peak bloom

For now, some roads in the area are closed to vehicles but the Tidal Basin is still open to pedestrian and cyclist traffic. In-person visitors are asked to wear a mask and social distance.

However, Litterst said if the area becomes overcrowded, the Park Service could institute a total closure of the Tidal Basin. 

"Once it's in place, it will stay in place until we get past peak bloom and the danger of large crowds has passed," he said.

Up to this point, though, Litterst noted that crowd levels have been manageable and many in-person visitors have done a good job following the COVID guidelines.

RELATED: Peak bloom is here! Where to see the cherry blossom trees outside of Tidal Basin area at National Mall

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