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NPS: D.C. Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Is March 14-17

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's one of the highlights of spring, and this year it's coming early.

Washington's cherry blossoms are about to bloom sooner than usual.

Along Washington's Tidal Basin, a bitter wind is usually blowing on March 1. But not today.

"It's beautiful," Anna Keener told WJZ Wednesday morning. "It's stunning. The sun is out. It's super warm. It's like 70 degrees!"

And that warmth is affecting more than just people. The hundreds of cherry trees that line the basin are also responding to the tail end of a mild winter.

"The warm winter has definitely advance things," says Michael Stachowicz, of the U.S. Park Service. "We've reached the green buds stage and it's one of the earliest ones we've ever reached."

And while unveiling plans for the city's 90th Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the earliest dates ever predicted for peak blooms was announced: March 14 through March 17.

April 8 is the average date for cherry blossoms to reach peak bloom.

This year the blossoms and the crowds they will draw will all arrive more than three weeks early.

One and a half million visitors to Washington are expected.

And all those visitors coming to see pink, leave green behind.

"That draws at least over $100 million in economic impact for the city in just the four week period," says Gregory O'Dell, president of Events DC.

And if it happens as predicted, in two weeks the tree will go from bud to bloom.

Because the trees are expected to peak earlier than expected, the Cherry Blossom Festival will start early, on March 15. It was originally set to begin March 20. It will last through April 16.

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