2018 | News

Cold Snap Threatens Peak Bloom of Kenwood’s Famous Cherry Blossoms

Bethesda and Chevy Chase neighborhood's trees attract thousands of visitors each year

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Cherry blossoms blooming on a tree in the Kenwood neighborhood Thursday

Andrew Metcalf

Each year local residents and visitors looking to avoid the throngs at the Tidal Basin flock to Bethesda and Chevy Chase's Kenwood neighborhood to see its cherry trees bloom.

This year, weather could impact the peak bloom of the approximately 1,200 Yoshino cherry trees that line the neighborhood’s streets, according to Dennis Potts, a Kenwood resident who coordinates logistics for the Kenwood Citizens Association.

The early spring cold snap has kept the trees from reaching peak bloom at the usual time. Potts said Wednesday afternoon about 40 percent of the trees are in peak bloom and he expects the others to reach that point within the next week.

He noted the Kenwood trees generally reach peak bloom about three to five days after the Tidal Basin’s trees—partly because the Washington, D.C., trees receive more sunlight. The National Park Service expects the Tidal Basin’s trees to enter peak bloom Thursday and last until Sunday.

However, snowfall predicted for Saturday could threaten the cherry blossoms, Potts said. As of Thursday morning, The Capital Weather Gang predicts temperatures in the low 30s to 40s and a mix of snow and rain on Saturday.

“The closer you get to peak blossom—if the blooms are exposed to freezing rain or cold weather—then you essentially have the possibility of a diminished peak blooming period,” Potts said. He added that if the trees don’t enter peak bloom by the time the freezing rain and cold temperatures hit, then the trees “have a little bit of a buffer” and he wouldn’t be as concerned that the peak bloom period would be hastened.

Cherry trees along Kennedy Drive in the Kenwood neighborhood on Thursday morning. Yellow no parking signs also line the street. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

The hundreds of trees line streets including Kennedy Drive, Dorset Avenue and Oakland Road in the neighborhood.

Potts handles logistics for the association, which includes hiring off-duty Montgomery County police officers to handle traffic control. No parking signs are posted in the neighborhood in coordination with the officers to prevent the area from being inundated with visitors’ parked cars.

The association covers the cost of hiring the off-duty officers and it does not profit from the visitors that come to the neighborhood each year, Potts said.

“From my perspective, we are just trying to make it safe and work for the residents and make it work for the visitors,” Potts said.

 He asked visitors to respect private property in the neighborhood, although he noted, “most people are good about that.” And he reminded people to look down as well as up at the trees, noting some visitors have been injured by tripping and falling.

Potts also advised visitors not to climb the trees because they’re fragile and the neighborhood wants to preserve them for generations to come.