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DC Cherry Blossom festival peak bloom dates moved up

The predicted peak bloom for Washington's cherry trees has been moved forward to March 20 to 23 because of temperatures well above normal, a spokeswoman for the National Cherry Blossom Festival said on Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

The predicted peak bloom for Washington's cherry trees has been moved forward to March 20 to 23 because of temperatures well above normal, a spokeswoman for the National Cherry Blossom Festival said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Park Service two weeks ago had forecast peak bloom between March 24 and 31, but higher nighttime temperatures prompted the change, spokeswoman Danielle Piacente said.

"Overnight temperatures haven't been low enough, they've been in the 50s. When it's warm like that they don't want to slow down," she said.

Blooming is expected to start on March 18 for the trees, which are centered on the Tidal Basin. The average date for peak bloom is April 4.

The festival is one of the biggest U.S. springtime parties, drawing about a million visitors a year. This year's edition has added cachet since it marks the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees to the United States as a sign of friendship.

The 2012 festival runs from March 20 to April 27.

Temperatures in Washington have been well above normal as the fourth-warmest winter on record for the contiguous United States draws to a close, according to the National Weather Service.

The high on Wednesday was 80 degrees, 25 degrees above normal, a Weather Service spokeswoman said.