WASHINGTON - Washington's famous cherry tree blooms are expected to be at their best between March 26 and March 30.
National Park Service cherry tree expert James Perry made the prediction Monday. This year marks the 101st anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan.
The average peak bloom date is April 4, but last year's peak came March 20 because of warm weather. Perry said the trees were blooming a little bit earlier than 50 or 75 years ago.
"Ultimately, it's up to Mother Nature," when the trees bloom and how long the pink and white flowers last, he said.
Perry said the "peak bloom date," the day when 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino Cherry trees are open, is expected to be at the end of March. That puts the trees in bloom just before Easter. At this point, cold weather could delay the blooms' opening.
Once the trees flower, weather will also determine how long the fragile blossoms last, Perry said.
"It really depends on the wind and the rain," Perry said, adding that the blossoms have lasted for as short as five days and as long as 18 days.
The cherry blossoms draw about 1 million visitors to the nation's capital each spring. This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival, which includes events and performances, will run from March 20 to April 14.