- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2013

Old Man Winter’s final attempt to wreak havoc in the D.C. area wrinkled a few schedules, but not the plans of Mother Nature.

Though the National Park Service had to push back its initial forecast once for the peak blooming period of the District’s beloved cherry blossoms, the buds are still on target to start their blooms on Wednesday despite last week’s snowfall and cold snap.

“It slowed them down, but there was no serious effect,” Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said. “Of course the timing is still weather- dependent.”

The 1,678 trees around the Tidal Basin normally bloom between late March and early April, though extreme hot or cold temperatures have caused blooms as early as March 15 and as late as April 18. Officials say the blossoms have lasted as long as 18 days and as short as five days.

Park officials originally scheduled the peak period between March 26 and 30, but March, often a roller coaster of weather patterns, was cold enough that officials had to push back their prediction. By contrast, last year was warm enough to require the Park Service to bump up its predictions by a week.

The average peak bloom date is Thursday.

The peak bloom time is the period during which 70 percent or more of the blooms have opened.

Ms. Johnson said there’s still the chance the blooms won’t start fully blooming until Saturday, but “there should be a number blossoming this weekend.”

Some have already opened on trees on Hains Point in East Potomac Park.

During their century in the District, the trees have dealt with subfreezing temperatures, heavy snow and high winds. A decade ago, 11 inches of snow fell on March 30, while in February 2010, branches as thick as 6 inches were split and some tree canopies were sheered off because of a snowstorm.

The 1 million visitors who come to the city to see the blooms are also resilient when it comes to the weather, and festival organizers have packed the nearly monthlong celebration with a variety of performances and parades inspired by the blossoms, as well as the Blossom Kite Festival on the Mall.

Danielle Piacente, spokeswoman for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, said the packed schedule of events hasn’t been affected despite the temperatures.

“We always say we can’t plan for the weather, we plan for our events,” she said.

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