Feb 28, 2024 - News

Attention, D.C.: Fake spring is here

The tops of cherry blossom trees with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background.

Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Release those wintery calves into the sunlight friends, because we've officially entered one of D.C.'s core 12 seasons — Fool's Spring.

The big picture: A fakeout break from the dreary meh-ness that is D.C. winter inevitably means everyone starts furiously Googling "outdoor happy hour near me" and speculating about the cherry blossoms' impending peak bloom.

  • Such warm spells are emblematic of an overall shift toward more warm winter days in the region because of climate change.

Driving the news: Wednesday's high is expected to be near 70, after two days of highs in the 60s.

State of play: This follows original predictions of a warmer-than-usual Washington winter.

  • This February is on track to be one of the 10 warmest on record, and March will likely be four to five degrees warmer than normal, says the Capital Weather Gang.
  • This means the cherry blossom flowers are expected to hit peak bloom between March 19 and 23 — 10 days sooner than typical and one of the earliest recorded peak blooms, per the Washington Post's forecast. (The National Park Service will release its prediction later this week.)

Thought bubble: Fingers crossed we get to use the excellent phrase "peduncle elongation" sooner, which is always a good time.

Between the lines: The warm spell comes as cold weather streaks in D.C. have been getting seven days shorter on average since 1970, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from a new Climate Central analysis.

  • D.C.'s longest cold streak last year lasted six days — compare that to its longest between 1970 and 2023, which was in 1977 and lasted 43 days.
Longest streak of cold winter days in D.C.
Data: Climate Central. Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

And the blossoms' average peak bloom has jumped up about six days over the last 100 years.

Reality check: Don't let those calves get too used to the great outdoors, because this isn't expected to last — temperatures will likely dip back into the 40s on Thursday, with highs expected to head into the 50s and 60s over the weekend, says the Capital Weather Gang.

Cheer up! At least we have another season to look forward to: The Pollening.


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