WASHINGTON — Cherry blossoms have burst into bloom in the nation's capital, beating the formal start of the Cherry Blossom Festival by two weeks.
Bunsen-burner weather this week raised daily temperatures about 15 degrees above previous record highs. The higher that temperatures soared into the 80s, the faster the buds opened.
Along the sidewalks, longtime Washington residents made their annual migration from the sunny to the shady side of the street. Out-of-towners do not arrive in earnest until this weekend, and when they come it is always in full force. Last year, 19.3 million tourists came, half a million for the cherry blossom season alone.
The first cherry trees were brought from Japan to the Tidal Basin in 1912, but most of today's 3,300 trees are relative newcomers. The Yoshino, with their single blossoms, are in bloom around the Tidal Basin. Kwanzan, with larger double blossoms, will flower in a week or two elsewhere in the Washington area.
Until the cherry blossom season ends in early April, the delicate blooms will continue to generate interest in a city usually dominated by politics.