Early bloom predicted for DC's cherry blossoms

In this April 1, 2010 photo, cherry trees are in full bloom around the tidal basin in Washington, with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. The National Park Service has announced the peak bloom dates for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Chief Hortoculturalist Rob DeFeo predicted Thursday that the pink and white blossoms will be at their best from March 29 to April 3. He says the period is slightly earlier than some years in the past, and that there are many signs in other plants of an early spring. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

March 3, 2011 1:36:35 PM PST
A National Park Service expert is predicting an early bloom for Washington's cherry blossoms, with warm temperatures already speeding the buds toward full bloom in late March. Chief Horticulturist Rob DeFeo said he believes the pink and white flowers will be at their best from March 29 to April 3, though the flowers can be seen in the days before and after those dates. The full bloom is predicted to fall during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs March 26 to April 10.

The average peak bloom date is April 4.

DeFeo said tracking the buds is like following a pregnancy, and that "the only variable is the temperature."

The cherry blossoms draw about 1 million visitors each spring.