Mar 19, 2024 - News

Peak cherry blossom bloom arrives in Seattle

Cherry trees flush with blossoms.

The University of Washington Quad in bloom this year. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Washington

That burst of warm weather over the weekend helped push the Yoshino cherry trees in the University of Washington Quad into peak bloom starting Tuesday, according to the University of Washington.

Why it matters: The annual bloom of cherry trees across Seattle symbolizes the end of the dark months and the beginning of spring, drawing residents and swarms of tourists to the city's most popular viewing places.

What they're saying: The last two weekends of March should provide ideal viewing conditions, said university arborist Sara Shores.

State of play: The Yoshino trees bloom earlier than many of the campus's 100 other cherry trees, which include Higan, Hisakura, Kwanzan, Mt. Fuji and Shirofugen species, according to the university.

  • Peak bloom for other trees will start just as bloom season wanes for the Yoshino trees in early April, said Shores.
  • How long blossoms remain on the trees each year depends on the weather, she said.
  • For cherry tree enthusiasts who can't make the trip, campus webcams are a good option for virtual viewing.

But the university is not the only place to see flowering cherries in the city, per the Seattle Department of Transportation, which has a map of city trees on its website.

A few other well-known places to see cherry trees in the region include the Washington Park Arboretum's Azalea Way and Kubota Garden in Seattle, the Washington State Capitol in Olympia and Point Defiance Park's Japanese Garden in Tacoma.

The big picture: While Seattle's blooms are coming within their historical normal range this year, climate trends show that spring is getting warmer and coming earlier in many parts of the U.S. and the world, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

  • Cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., tied for their second-earliest peak bloom on Sunday following some warm final days of winter that saw temperatures reach the 70s, per the National Park Service.
  • In 2021, the Japanese city of Kyoto recorded its earliest bloom in over 1,200 years.
  • Average spring temperatures rose by 2.2° F from 1970 to 2023 across nearly 230 U.S. cities analyzed by Climate Central.

Zoom in: In Seattle, the average temperature of the three-month period between March and May increased from 48.6° in 1970 to 51.3° in 2023, per NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

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