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Vancouverites rejoice at the first signs of spring, early cherry blossoms

Despite subzero temperatures across the Lower Mainland, the pink flowers are getting city-dwellers excited for spring 🌸
First Cherry Blossoms
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is rejoicing at the first signs of spring despite the city's cold snap.

In a bizarre collision of weather and changing seasons, Vancouverites were shocked earlier this week to see emerging pink cherry blossoms covered in snow in the city.

The phenomenon was seen in the Vancouver sub-Reddit, where a photo titled “It begins. 🌸” showed a handful of cherry blossoms against a grey sky.

Other Reddit users posted their confusion in the comments wondering how it could be snowing and cherry trees could be blooming at the same time. Others pointed out how the rest of the country is still enduring a deep freeze with some provinces dipping into the -20° C range.

Just a few days earlier on Feb. 5 the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival also recognized the flowers coming into bloom. The festival is a celebration of the flowers inspired by the age-old Japanese cultural tradition of hanami or flower viewing.

“We’re a little over-excited to see our ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ trees in full bloom,” the post reads “It takes an over-excited imagination to regard these as being in full bloom, but they’re exciting a lot of people.”

According to information on the festival's website, the trees most likely to be blooming around this time of year are the Whitcomb Cherry Trees which usually starts blooming in early March. 

For those interested in going around the city to see the flowers on their own the festival has an extensive map with popular cherry blossom stops on their website. 

The festival itself was derailed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; this year the event has several online programs on offer, in addition to the maps for self-guided blossom-spotting tours.

Dr. Sean Michaletz, a UBC professor in the Department of Botany and researcher at the Biodiversity Research Centre, says despite the cold weather there will still be plenty of blossoms to photograph in the spring. 

"If we did get a cold spell this week I guess that there would still be a majority of these buds that haven't kind of flushed their flowers yet so we would probably see that still happening later in the spring," Michaletz said

Michaletz went on to say that  if the cold snap were to on for several weeks he expects a majority of the blossoms are going to stay safe, tightly compacted in their buds.

As for the blossoms that have already seen the sunshine, Michaletz says the cold may affect them but overall the spring's full bloom will not be lacking in flowers.

"A cold spell will damage them but I think probably the ones that we're seeing, they're a minor fraction of the total amount of buds that we'll eventually get," Michaletz said.