MOSCOW—Washington DC’s famous spring cherry blossoms may not survive the snow storm that pummelled the east coast of the US on Tuesday.
As the beloved flowers at the Tidal Basin were about to reach their peak, the overnight storm left many of them encased in ice. Perhaps more dangerous than the ice, however, the blossoms cannot survive temperatures lower than 24 degrees Fahrenheit, and local weather services are forecasting lows as cold as 23 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday evening.
“Our big concern is the overnight temperatures for the next three nights, which are expected to drop below 27 degrees,” National Park Service (NPS) spokesman Mike Litterst told NBC Washington.
According to the NPS, temperatures below 27 degrees Fahrenheit could cause a loss of approximately 10 percent of the blossoms. If it drops below 24 degrees Fahrenheit, as many as 90 percent of the blossoms would not survive.
The closer a blossom is to peak bloom, the more at risk they are to damage. Blossoms that are still tight buds are more likely to remain protected through the frigid temperatures. The weather is not expected to affect the trees themselves.
“If we were to have a situation where a majority or a significant number never reach peak bloom, that would be a first,” Litterst added.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival was scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but the opening date of the welcome area and ANA Performance Stage has been postponed until Saturday, due to the harsh weather, organizers told the station.
The NPS is asking visitors to not attempt to shake snow off, or remove ice from the blossoms as it may do more damage to the delicate petals.