Bitter cold temperatures threaten DC's cherry blossoms as festival begins

The National Cherry Blossom Festival begins Wednesday but the stars of the show are in danger of not being able to make their appearance.

D.C.'s late-winter snowstorm, coupled with bitter cold temperatures, may be enough to cause as many as 90 percent of the trees to lose their flowering blooms.

Mike Litterst, with the National Park Service, told FOX 5 last week that the blossoms would be in danger of being damaged or lost if the temperature dropped to 27 degrees or lower. The trees escaped harm over the weekend after temperatures came in a bit warmer than expected. They also avoided catastrophe during Tuesday's snowstorm.

Temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday are forecasted to be in the low 20s. Sustained temperatures that low could impact several thousand of the Yoshino trees - the most plentiful variety at the Tidal Basin. The Yoshino trees tend to blossom first out of all the trees. Litterst told us that there are several other varieties of trees - some of which tend to bloom weeks after the Yoshino trees.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival begins today and runs until April 16. Officials predict that the peak bloom of the trees will be between March 19 and 22.