Why is the UK still so cold late April - and when will it get warmer?

Temperatures plummeted to -6.3C in Shap, Cumbria, as the UK is hit by cold air from Greenland and the Arctic

Alexander Butler
Monday 29 April 2024 09:30 BST
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With some parts of Britain reaching 22C this month, many will have felt that spring was on its way and a warm summer was just around the corner.

But this week, temperatures dropped as low as -6.3C in Cumbria with most of the UK feeling chillier than the week before.

So why does it still feel so cold in April, and is it normal for this time of year?

Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of Royal Meterological Society, explained that the UK was being hit by cold air coming in from Greenland and the Arctic - but that this wasn’t unprecedented.

“We’ve got a northerly wind bringing in very cold air from Greenland and the Arctic. There are still frozen seas up there so it’s coming from a very cold direction. You’ll notice that if you go outside - you’ll feel that nip in the air,” she told the BBC.

“But combined with that some nights we’ve had clear skies, which leads to a frost over night. It’s called a good radiation night where you lose a lot of heat from the ground into the atmosphere and those temperatures drop away overnight.

“Temperatures are below average. But it’s not unusual for us to get temperatures like this at the end of April. It’s certainly not unprecedented in any way.”

Weather over the weekend felt “cool” across most of the UK, following a spell of cold, wet and windy weather, according to the Met Office.

But temperatures are expected to be “warmer than of late” moving into next week, with with southeast England set to enjoy the highest temperatures.

From 1 May, the Met Office is forecasting a week of temperatures being above average for the time of year with northwestern parts of the UK likely to be the sunniest and driest.

Temperatures are expected to be “warmer than of late” moving into next week, the Met Office said
Temperatures are expected to be “warmer than of late” moving into next week, the Met Office said (Met Office)

Senior Met Office meteorologist Amy Bokota said: “Certainly by the time we get to Wednesday, and probably into next weekend, temperatures will be warmer.

“It might not be the sort of glorious sort of heatwave that we’re hoping for... but there probably will be some more pleasant and warmer weather for some people as we head towards the end of the week.”

It comes after Britain recorded its hottest day of the year so far on 12 April as hazy sunshine sent the mercury soaring to 21C in some areas.

It was slightly cooler in the north, with highs of 16C forecast for Manchester and 15C in Edinburgh. The 21C recorded in southeast England surpassed the 16C forecast for Algiers, Algeria in northern Africa.

The temperature also beat some European holiday destinations such as Nice in France, where the mercury struggled to get above 20C.

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