The original peak bloom was March 14-17, then it was pushed to March 19-22, and then a surprise snowstorm swept through the area.
In addition to the delay, the NPS estimates that about half the cherry blossoms didn't survive the cold snap. "Although the bitter cold temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week killed virtually all of the blossoms that had reached 'puffy white,' (the fifth of six stages in the bloom cycle), blossoms from earlier stages forced open showed little if any damage," NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said in a statement.
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Study link: Predicting the Timing of Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Mid-Atlantic States in Response to Climate Change In other words, this study suggests cherry trees will shift earlier 2 to 6 times faster in the future compared to the past (which means the climate would have to warm that much faster as well). C.’s climate would have to warm 5 to 14 degrees by 2080 for the study’s projections about bloom dates to be achieved (assuming the relationship between temperature and bloom dates stays the same).
The study notes “the model [used] predicted considerable acceleration of the peak bloom date in ....
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The National Park Service now says that the cherry blossoms will bloom "late next week," which would put it in the March 23-26 time frame.
The National Park Service’s chief horticulturist Rob De Feo has said March temperatures are the key predictor of peak bloom dates.
My analysis of temperatures and blooms dates reveals Washington’s average March temperature has warmed 2.3 degrees in the last 90 years and that the cherry blossom peak bloom date has shifted a little more than 5 days earlier (based on simple linear regression).
It would require an incredible, six-fold acceleration of the warming trend in the region, and the temperatures presently are warming at a much lower rate.
The mid-range scenario - which would require the temperature rate to double - is more plausible, but still out of step with the current temperature trends.