PEAK BLOOM: DC's cherry blossoms reach full bloom along Tidal Basin

It's finally time. The National Park Service said Friday afternoon that the cherry blossoms around DC's Tidal Basin have officially reached peak bloom-- and you'd only have to look as far as the massive crowds that are flocking to see them to know that's true.

NPS says both the natural indicators, in the form of a physical inventory of the trees, and the weather data-- which shows that the 220 "heating degrees" required for bloom have been reached-- are now indicating the start of the peek bloom period. To the rest of us, that's a way of saying-- peak bloom, when 70 percent of the Yoshino variety of trees are in full bloom, is on!

How long will it last? Well, anywhere between 4 and 10 days, depending on how kind Mother Nature is to them. Heavy rain and strong winds can cause the blossoms to fall early. On the other hand, next week's slightly cooler temperatures should help to keep them on the trees a little longer.

Of course, the blossoms that are blooming now aren't the only ones. NPS says other varieties of cherry trees bloom after the Yoshino peak bloom ends. For instance, the Kwanzan trees, which make up 10 percent of the total population around the Tidal Basin and the National Mall, should peak on or about April 5. If you're looking for a good bunch of them, check out the Potomac River side of East Potomac Park.