First Alert Weather In-Depth: The connection between climatology and the cherry blossoms

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – We have heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”.  Or in this case, stop and smell the flowers.

We are talking about the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.  When it comes to the spring season this is probably the most iconic, or certainly the most famous, bloom across the United States. These trees were planted over 100 years ago and they are located right along the Potomac River. Where else can you see the Jefferson or Lincoln Memorial, in such a beautiful setting. The folks in the Washington, D.C. area surround this event with a big festival and timing this event is directly tied to the climatology of the area. The average date of the bloom is right around April 4, but it can vary significantly depending on the temperature in a given season.

When you look at the historical records, the earliest date for the bloom was March 15, 1990. The latest date of record was April 18, 1958 and this was due to the colder than normal season. We also know that if the buds come out during, or shortly before a killing freeze, the flowers will probably not make an appearance that particular year. This season, the bloom is projected to happen over the next couple of days.

The National Park Service provides a year-by-year history of the blooms and that measurement goes all the way back to 1920. It does vary from one season to another, but over the last couple of decades, the blooms have been happening earlier and earlier and some have argued this is probably due to climate change.  From my perspective that seems like a likely scenario.

See additional information about the cherry blossoms here.