03/13/2012 02:17 pm ET

An Earlier Peak Bloom For D.C.'s Cherry Blossoms?

WASHINGTON -- While the National Cherry Blossom Festival might begin March 20, could all the warm weather the D.C. area has been experiencing prompt an earlier peak bloom than has been anticipated? Some say yes.

The National Park Service's chief horticulturalist, Rob DeFeo, predicted that the cherry blossoms would reach peak bloom between March 24 and March 31.

But the Capital Weather Gang thinks that estimate is a little off:

The May-like warmth forecast over the next week promises to give the cherry blossoms a big shot of adrenaline, likely bringing them to peak bloom considerably earlier than normal (which is around April 1). With the big temperature spike ahead, the peak bloom date could come close to the earliest on record (over the last 20 years) of March 17, 2000.

CWG's Jason Samenow notes that DeFeo has "narrowed that window to the early side of [his earlier predicted peak bloom] range" and said that in all his years of bloom prediction, "[e]very time I've missed, it's because of weather conditions we have right now."

D.C.'s warm weather is expected to continue this week, with high temperatures in the mid-70s forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday.