D.C. cherry blossom peak bloom: March 24 to March 31
A nearly non-existent winter and warmer than average temperatures will have things blooming near the Tidal Basin earlier than usual.
The National Park Service announced Thursday that peak bloom for the cherry blossoms, which are celebrating their 100th year of bringing color to the banks of the Potomac, will once again fall before March ends.
This year, the peak bloom time for the cherry blossoms will be March 24-31, the Park Service says. Peak bloom time means 70 percent of cherry blossoms will be blooming.
"There has been a lot of speculation about the warm weather, and that speculation is correct," National Park Service chief horticulturalist Rob DeFeo said.
Peak bloom in 2011 came on March 29. The earliest it has happened over the past nine years was in 2008, when the blossoms reached their peak on March 26.
The average peak bloom day is April 4, but the early sprouting is being welcomed by most locals and visitors alike.
"I think the groundhog had it wrong," Arlington resident Kristin Murphy said. "Everything is early this year. My backyard is in full bloom."
William Watson of Alexandria didn't seem to care when they came, as long as they did.
"If they come early it's fine, so long as they come," Watson said.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held between March 20 and April 27. This year's festival will commemorate 100 years since Japan first donated the original cherry trees to Washington. Organizers are expecting that at least one million tourists will converge on D.C. during the five-week event.
It's an influx of visitors that's nothing to blink at; last year, visitors spent $126 million during the annual rite of spring. For Sharon Evans, who is visiting D.C. from Indianapolis, it will be her first time seeing the blossoms.
"I'm hoping that they are blooming and I get a chance to see them, because I know they will be beautiful," she said.
For more on the National Cherry Blossom Festival, you can visit the event's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.