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Cherry Blossom Update: Cold Temps Delay Peak

10 Mar 2017, 7:30 am

Remember last week when I told you to pack the bags and ready the camera for what could be the earliest peak bloom on record?

Well, I was wrong.

It turns out my weather knowledge would have helped in this situation. I knew colder temperatures were in the forecast, but lack of botanical brains kept me from connecting the dots!

An Overzealous Forecast

Record warmth across the Mid Atlantic and Northeast prompted experts to issue a forecast for what would have been the earliest peak bloom on record.

Cherry Blossom Peak Might Happen Earlier Than Ever Before

A Change in the Pattern

Not quite record cold, but if you ask a resident of the Eastern U.S. it might as well be after all of those record warm winter days!

From shorts and t-shirts to pants and parkas– temperatures took a plunge and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Temperatures will average about 15°F below where they should be this time of year for the next week.
But it’s the lows in the 20s that could be potentially detrimental.

A Year Without Blossoms

A hard freeze at the inopportune moment could potentially stop the iconic bloom.
This actually hasn’t happened before, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen this year.

A hard freeze occurs when the air temperature drops below 26°F for at least 2 hours, and looking at the above forecast, a few days have the potential to do just that.

Now, the amount of harm all depends on the stage of the cherry blossom.
The stage of blossoming most susceptible to the damage of a hard freeze is the ‘pronounced elongation.’
Which just so happens to be where we are right now:

Thus, looking at the forecast and our stage in the blooming process– things aren’t looking great.

Fingers Crossed

We are all optimists, right?


So, assuming this bout of cold doesn’t kill our blossoms the peak is now expected to be much closer to the normal date.
But keep in mind, just because this is peak, it doesn’t mean the blossoms won’t be spectacular before and after these dates!
After all, every tree peaks at a different time!

Peak: March 19 – 22

Pro Tip

The best time to view is early in the morning before the crowds arrive and the city wakes up!

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo


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