Cherry trees bloom early, dampening festival plans

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Cherry trees bloom early, dampening festival plans

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Citizens take a walk along cherry tree-lined streets in Yeouido, Seoul, yesterday, to appreciate the white blossoms.[NEWSIS]

Cherry blossoms are blooming across the nation much earlier than usual, even before winter migratory birds visit Korea on their way north.

Cherry blossoms opened on March 28 at the Seoul Meteorological Station in Jongno District, Seoul, the first time cherry blossoms have been seen blooming in March at the meteorological station since the station began to keep records of the cherry blossom timing in 1922. Cherry blossoms first appeared on March 25 in Seogwipo, Jeju, this year, and arrived in Seoul after just three days.

The Korea Meteorological Administration initially forecast that cherry blossoms would be in bloom on April 11 in Seoul, but they came two weeks earlier than forecast, 13 days earlier than in an average year and 18 days earlier than last year. Cherry trees in Yeouido, Seoul, began to bloom on March 29, 10 days earlier than forecast.

The arrival of the cherry blossoms spoiled the timing of the annual spring cherry blossom festival in Yeouido. There, cherry blossoms will be in full bloom between April 4 and 6, although the festival is scheduled to take place April 13 to 20. Cherry flowers are expected to be falling during the festival period.

Cherry blossoms in Jinhae District, South Gyeongsang, began to show on March 24, a week earlier than expected, and they are now in full bloom. The Jinhae Gunhangje Festival, which celebrates the full-blown cherry blossoms in Jinhae, will take place April 1 to 10.

“When cherry blossoms start to show is largely affected by temperatures in February and March, and minor differences are caused by the weather changes right before the blooming,” said an official at the Korea Meteorological Administration.

Weather forecasters predict the blossom timing based on the estimate of temperatures for the whole of March, and the forecast will be wrong if March temperature forecasts are off the mark.

“Due to global warming, temperatures have gradually inched up in recent years. It was relatively warm last winter and spring came earlier this year,” said Ho Chang-hoi, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Seoul National University.

BY KANG CHAN-SU [enational@joongang.co.kr]



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