December 16 2015: It has been quite a warm December, but this might seem ridiculous. Yes, there are cherry blossoms in bloom across Washington DC as of today. Despite a cold weekend on the way, this may end up as one of the warmest Decembers on record, and chalk up another victory for El Nino. It may have your wardrobe fooled, and you might think the trees as well, but think again. At least according to Catherine Dewey, Chief of National Mall National Park Division of Resource Management. I spoke with her today to confirm the blossoms and get some background information.
“We actually have autumn flowering cherry trees. The proper name is Prunis subhirtella ‘Autumnalis and they flower twice a year”
There are several cherry blossoms in bloom now near the Washington Monument, along the Tidal Basin, and along the Potomac River. According to Catherine, “It is not a rare occurrence. We do have the trees flowering when we have weather like this.” But this is quite a contrast to the last few springs with late blooms as shown below.
Thanks to Missy Sweeney for sending (her friend) Becky Walker’s photo proof of the cherry blossoms today.
The weather has been unusually mild. I have focused on the records set in Baltimore recently, but here is a look at Reagan-National Airport in Washington. Note, this is along the Potomac River, which can get a cooling influence from the water when there are unseasonal warm ups.
As far as the spring cherry blossoms, they will not be affected by this warm December and bloom. So, much like a snowless December can not foretell the rest of winter’s snow… This will not determine the spring outlook for cherry blossoms. But the past few years have been blooming later than average. An abrupt shift from the nearly record early bloom in 2012
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