DC's Cherry Blossoms Are in Big Trouble, National Park Service Says

Below-freezing temperatures over the next couple days could damage 90 percent of D.C.'s budding cherry blossoms.

Low temperatures over the next three nights could decide whether Washington's famed cherry blossoms survive a streak of winter whiplash, potentially resulting in almost all the blossoms wilting away before their spectacular display. With some forecasters anxious that for the first time in close to a century peak bloom may not happen at all.

Damage begins when the temperature drops to about 27 degrees Fahrenheit (-2.5 degrees Celsius), Litterst explained.

The National Park Service is forecasting peak bloom to occur between March 19 and March 22.

Washington was under a winter storm warning Monday night, with the mercury possibly plunging into the 20s. The Kwanzan trees are projected to bloom April 10-13. Whatever the fate of the flower, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is still happening, starting today. If the blossoms are still tight in buds, they're "hopefully" still protected.

The National Park Service said horticulturists have taken cuttings of branches containing blossoms at earlier stages and will force them open over the next 24 to 48 hours to determine what damage may have occurred in those blossoms.

Cherry blossom watch is on.

The NPS issued a statement Wednesday warning that based on their inspections, the weather appears to be damaging the trees, and it could get worse in the coming days.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

  • Larry Hoffman