High Park cherry blossoms won't bloom until mid-May, polar vortex to blame
Two women take photos of cherry blossoms at Toronto's High Park Sunday, May 5, 2013. (Graeme Roy / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Taylor Poelman, Special to CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, May 3, 2014 9:05AM EDT
For some people, a sign of spring is to see cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Locals and tourists alike flock to Toronto's High Park to see the beautiful pale pink flowers emerging on the trees with elegance and grace. But not just yet.
At around this time last year, cherry blossoms were out in full force; in 2012 they bloomed at the beginning of April.
As of Friday, there isn't a single blossom along High Park's Grenadier Pond - a coveted spot for viewing the delicate flowers - and none are expected until the Victoria Day long weekend in late May.
An update posted to High Park's website last week reads: "Still pretty cold out there, especially in the mornings. A few nice days helped the buds but they are nowhere near ready to bloom yet."
The High Park Nature Centre has been recording the peak bloom of cherry blossoms since 2006. Peak bloom refers to when 70 per cent of the blossoms are open, and it can last up to two weeks if weather permits.
This year marks the latest predicted date for the majority of blossoms to appear.
The frigid polar vortex - an arctic weather system pushed south into more temperate regions that blanketed central North America - is to blame for the delay.
Toronto experienced record-setting cold temperatures, and is still waiting for warmer weather to arrive at last.
Enthusiasts of Sakura Hanami (Japanese for cherry blossom viewing) check in regularly for updates on when the peak bloom will occur in High Park.
Steve Joniak is one of them. He created "Sakura in High Park," a blog dedicated to the cherry blossoms there.
Also known as "Sakura Steve," Joniak maintains a Sakura watch on the blog where he posts pictures of blossom growth progression. As the peak bloom draws nearer, Joniak carefully inspects the buds on the trees and provides regular updates.
"Because we're now getting closer to the bloom, I'll be checking more frequently - at least three or four times a week," he told CTV News Channel Thursday morning.
When the blossoms finally do appear, expect quite the sight, he says.
"Literally thousands of people attend the park during the peak bloom season," Joniak said. "It's a big spectacle that people love to see."
Joniak started the blog as part of a photography assignment. He was having trouble finding information on where cherry blossoms were in Toronto and when they would bloom, so he put together a resource for others.
In the past week, the site has attracted about 25,000 visitors.