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Winter's Foothold in East to Delay Peak Bloom of DC's Cherry Blossoms

Old Man Winter's foothold in the eastern United States hasn't budged much in early spring and will likely delay the peak blooming of the abundant sakura blossoms gracing the nation's capital.

Each year more than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C., during the spring for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.

"Temperatures over the last week have been running 5 degrees below average for this time of year," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards said.

The peak bloom date, which is expected between April 11 and 14 this year, is defined as the day when 70 percent of Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open, according to the National Park Service.

"Peak bloom varies annually depending on weather conditions. The most likely time to reach peak bloom is between the last week of March and the first week of April," the National Park Service reports. "Extraordinary warm or cool temperatures have resulted in peak bloom as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958)."

The average temperature has been 44.9 F from March 23 through March 29, Edwards said, adding that the normal temperature is around 50 F.

"Exactly when the buds will open is not easy to predict and it is extremely difficult to give an accurate forecast much more than 10 days before peak bloom," the park service reports.

Japan presented the U.S. with more than 3,000 cherry trees in 1912 to celebrate the relationship between the two countries, sparking the nation's first cherry blossom festival in 1927.

The initial gift included 12 varieties, of which two, Yoshino and Kwanzan, are now the most abundant.

According to the National Park Service, there are now approximately 3,800 cherry trees located near the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and the Washington Monument.

In 1993, the blossoms for the National Cherry Blossom Festival hit peak bloom on April 11, according to the National Cherry Blossom Festival's website.

In spring of 2014, the city saw the latest peak bloom since that time.

Last year's peak bloom date occurred on April 10, and in 2013 it occurred on April 9.