WASHINGTON - Washington's cherished cherry tree blossoms signal the unofficial start of spring in the nation's capital, and it looks like it's coming a bit early this year.
The National Park Service announced Thursday that the projected peak date for the blossoms along the Tidal Basin would be March 17 to March 20.
Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said April 4 is the historical average date for peak bloom, which is the day when 70 percent of the blossoms are open in trees around the Tidal Basin.
This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival will run from March 20 to April 15.
Considered the world's largest U.S.-Japanese celebration, the festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to the District of Columbia.