SPRING IS IN THE AIR

Weather causes peak time for blos­soms to start ear­lier

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

Record-break­ing tem­per­a­tures in the D.C. area on Thurs­day had res­i­dents flock­ing out­doors in high spir­its ahead of a week­end with the prom­ise of more sum­mery weather.

At sun-drenched Mar­ion Park on Capi­tol Hill, 32-year-old Noel Fritsch sur­veyed the busy play­ground as he sipped from a sweat­ing cup of iced cof­fee.

“This is ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” Mr. Fritsch said. “It’s been a great spring. My wife and I opened the win­dows and en­joyed the fresh air.”

The mer­cury hit 82 de­grees by midafter­noon at Ron­ald Rea­gan Washington Na­tional Air­port, said Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist Heather Sh­effield, break­ing the March 15 record high of 81 de­grees set in 1990.

This time last year, res­i­dents were bun­dled against a brisk 51 de­grees, but Ms. Sh­effield said the weather ser­vice is pre­dict­ing at least an­other week of 60- and 70de­gree weather and a warmer than nor­mal April.

“Ev­ery­one wants to eat out­side,” said Alvin Ross, man­ager of Mr. Henry’s Res­tau­rant along the 600 block of Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue South­east.

“Usu­ally, I take March to train all the new peo­ple about the pa­tio. Now, I am work­ing a lot of shifts.”

Mr. Henry’s boasts a pa­tio that can fit up to 70 cus­tomers, and as the lunch hour neared on Thurs­day, the seats be­gan to fill.

“They say we’ll see it through next week,” said Mr. Ross, 65. “It’s very un­usual, but it’s been great.”

This year’s mild win­ter and early ar­rival of spring have been a wel­come change for many, but the warm weather has caused at least one hic­cup.

The Na­tional Park Ser­vice’s chief hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Robert De­feo an­nounced this week that the peak bloom time for the cherry blos­soms would oc­cur one week ear­lier be­cause of the warm weather.

The peak bloom pe­riod is now ex­pected to start March 18 and the best time to see the blooms is pre­dicted to be March 20 through 23, in­stead of the last week of March.

The peak bloom pe­riod now starts ear­lier than the “spring break” planned by Metro and its track work­ers. Be­cause of the added rid­er­ship dur­ing the Na­tional Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val, the trans­porta­tion sys­tem an­nounced a par­tial work hia­tus be­tween March 24 and April 20. Of­fi­cials have not an­nounced plans to change the date.

“There’s just so many mov­ing parts, there’s a lot of plan­ning that goes into it,” said Metro spokes­woman Caro­line Lukas. “Un­for­tu­nately, we’re kind of set.”

PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES

James Fisher, 70, a D.C. na­tive, seeks shel­ter from the sun Thurs­day be­hind a col­or­ful um­brella at the Oc­cupy D.C. en­camp­ment at Free­dom Plaza that he has called home since Oc­to­ber. The warm weather is ex­pected to con­tinue this week­end, and res­i­dents are plan­ning to take ad­van­tage of the early spring.

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