March 1 is the start of Meteorological Spring. The science community groups the seasons into three full months with spring being March, April, and May. It doesn’t mean winter weather is over and done with. But you might beg to differ based on our lack of snow and cold much of this year. This past February will go down as the 2nd warmest on record in Baltimore, and that has set the stage for an early blossom. Many trees have begun to bud, and flowers are sprouting. In our area, this points all eyes to Washington DC for annual Cherry Blossom bloom and festival. The National Parks Service has predicted that the bloom this year could rival the earliest on record. It will be close, and the weather over the next few weeks will play a big role. If we are lucky, we will get some scenes like Betty Fowler showed us last year (image above). Here is a look how it all stacks up and links to some of the best photos of the past few years.
We have had a couple of unusual winters. Do you remember the record warm December 2015? Locally we had five days reach the 70s, and some of the Cherry Blossoms bloomed before Christmas. It was ironic that a month later we had our largest snowstorm on record. That spring (last year) had an early bloom on March 22. One year earlier, the spring of 2015 was thought at one point might rival the latest bloom on record. But it was part of four years in a row between 2013 and 2016 we had a bloom around April 9/10. Since 1921, the average peak is around April 3. Now lets go back to 2012, when the bloom on March 20 came after a mild winter.
The National Parks Service has been documenting the progress of Cherry Blossom blooms for a long time, so we have extensive records to compare to. Below is a list of the dates of the past 25 years, documenting when 70% of the blossoms have hit each of the six stages.
- Green Color in Buds: Mid to late February – Early March
- Florets Visible: Early to Mid March, Av. 16-21 days to Peak Bloom
- Extension of Florets: Av. 12-17 days to Peak Bloom
- Peduncle Elongation: Av. 5-10 days to Peak Bloom (Frost Critical)
- Puffy White: Av. 4-6 days to Peak Bloom
NPS Predicts that this year’s peak bloom will be between March 14 and 17
- March 15, 1990
- March 20, 1945
- April 18, 1958
In this chart of the past 25 years below, you will see three other years that had an earlier Stage 1 than is currently recorded. The actual bloom depends on the ground temperature as well as the weather conditions.
|Year||Green Color in Buds||Florets Visible||Extension of|
|Peduncle Elongation||Puffy White||Peak Bloom|