The unusually warm weather in Washington has prompted the U.S. Park Service to revise its annual cherry blossom forecast, announcing Wednesday the peak bloom period in the nation's capital could be just two weeks away.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival typically coincides with the "peak bloom" of the nearly 1,700 cherry blossom trees that line the Tidal Basin in Washington, along the Potomac River.
The timing of the blooming cycle is very much affected by weather, however, and can vary over a four-week period. This year's warm winter weather has altered the peak bloom forecast to March 14 through March 17, according to National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Gay Vietzke.
The festival — about four weeks of tourist-themed events — is a rite of spring celebrating the trees, which were given to the United States by Japan in 1912. The warm weather has prompted organizers to begin the monthlong event one day earlier than originally planned. It will now be held from March 15 to April 16.
The cherry blossoms, one of Washington's biggest tourist attractions, last from four to 10 days, depending on the weather.
Cool, calm weather keeps the blossoms open longer, while a rainy, windy day can bring an abrupt end to the display. Previously, the peak blooming period began as early as March 15, in 1990, and as late as April 18, in 1958.