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UK weather: April set to be frostiest in UK for 60 years

A council worker mows a lawn that has been dusted with a light covering of snow in Beamish, Durham

This month is provisionally the frostiest April in the UK for at least 60 years, the Met Office has said. April 2021 has already seen an average of 13 days of air frosts across the UK, beating the previous record of 11 days reported in April 1970.

Northern Ireland had eight days of air frosts, while Scotland recorded 16. The Met Office says the conditions have been challenging for farmers and growers and are advising gardeners to keep their tender plants indoors.

The breakdown of frosty days by UK nation in April is:

England – 12
Wales – 11
Scotland – 16
Northern Ireland – 8
Northern Ireland’s record for frost in April was 11 days in 1983. Mark McCarthy, from the National Climate Information Centre, said: “We’ve been seeing a high frequency of frosts overnight throughout April, thanks largely to persistent clear skies for most.

“This will be reflected in the end of the month statistics, which are already showing above average sunshine duration, as well as low minimum temperature readings overnight, with some parts of northern England and Scotland reporting minimum temperatures 3.5°C lower than the average for April.”

BBC Weather’s Gemma Plumb said there were a number of reasons for the frosty month but the main one was that high pressure had dominated the weather across the UK for much of April.

“High pressure can lead to clear skies overnight and this allows temperatures to fall below zero and brings frosty nights,” she said.

“We have also seen the winds often coming in from the north which brings in colder air and overnight this can lead to cold and frosty nights.

“Another reason is that the soil is dry due to this month being drier than average across most of the UK. The dry soil allows for more radiative cooling so more frosts overnight.”

The frosty conditions have been challenging for gardeners and farmers with Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society, saying that flowers such as camellia and magnolias had been “scorched” while cherry, plum and pear blossom had been injured so the “fruit crop will be reduced”.

It is a marked contrast to last month when parts of the UK enjoyed the second warmest March day on record with temperatures hitting 24.5C (76.1F).

At the start of April temperatures plummeted over the Easter weekend and there was some snow in Scotland as well as parts of England.