Late winter storm causes widespread damage to D.C.'s cherry blossoms

Washington’s famed cherry blossoms are covered in ice during a late winter storm in Washington, Tue., March 14, 2017. The National Park Service is concerned about the impact of cold weather on the blossoms.

AP

WASHINGTON -- After a blast of frigid temperatures, the National Park Service says horticulturists have found widespread damage in cherry blossoms that have reached an advanced stage in the bloom cycle.

The park service said in a statement Wednesday that peak bloom for Washington’s famous cherry blossoms is still expected in the next week, but fewer trees could blossom because of the cold weather.

Peak bloom is the day when 70 percent of the Yoshino cherry trees around the city’s Tidal Basin are blossoming.

Officials say temperatures dipped to dangerous levels for the blossoms overnight, dropping to 24 degrees or below Wednesday morning. They are expected to dip again for the next two nights.

Horticulturists have taken cuttings of branches with blossoms at earlier stages and will force them open over the next two days to determine whether they’re damaged.