The British weather in April

April showers ...

Averages for April (for Central England)

Overall average

8.0

Average maximum

11.8

Average minimum

3.9

Average highest maximum

18.4

Average lowest minimum

-2.9

Average rainfall

43

April is often a dry month, as our surrounding seas are near their coldest and can not usually generate the amount of moisture necessary for heavy downpours. Indeed there have been 25 "very dry" (defined as average England and Wales rainfall of less than 12 mm). The last April below average temperature was 1989. However, there was a long period of cold springs from the early 1950s until the late 1980s; in this time we lost a number of breeding birds from Britain, including wryneck and red-backed shrike, presumably because of the decrease in availability of suitable insects. Temperatures often show great variability in April. Thunderstorms are rare but just starting to pick up after the winter. Snow is not as uncommon in April as many people think: there is an average of one day of snowfall a year in the south and three or four in the north (and seven in the Highlands). In many respects, April (along with October) is my least favourite months: extreme weather is least likely to happen in April. My Perfect April would have a heatwave at the beginning, accompanying a drought, a great blizzard at the end, and some gales and thunderstorms with torrential downpours in the middle ...

There are supposedly some indications that there are cold stormy periods 10-15 and 23-26, and a warm spell at the end of March and beginning of April. The 11-14th is Buchan's second cold spell. In 1928 this became famous whenwhen Lord Desborough presented a bill for fixing the date of Easter during this period. In the south of England. the average date for the first time 20C is reached is around 4 April. There is some suggestion that dry Aprils tend to be followed by wet summers. Nine out of ten of the driest Aprils of the last hundred years were followed by wet or very wet summers.


Extremes for April in the 20th century

Highest April average overall = 10.5 (1943)

Lowest April average overall = 5.4 (1917)

Highest maximum = 29.4C (1949: 16th, across the southeast - actually Easter Saturday!)

Lowest minimum = -15.0C (1917: 2nd, at Newton Rigg, Cumbria)


Some extreme weather events in April in the twentieth century

1900 Dry and fairly warm. After am unsettled start, it became quite sunny and warm.

1902 Dry and pleasant in the east. There was a widespread snowfall between the 1st and 5th in the north.

1903 Cold: colder than March. The record lowest maximum for April was recorded this year, with only 17.2C at Cambridge.

1905 Windy, wet and unsettled.

1906 Mostly fine and warm first half. It reached 22C in parts of the south on the 13th.

1907 The record was set for the warmest April 1 this century: 22.6C in Cambridgeshire, at Wryde. On the whole though, the month was cold and unsettled, with rain and thundery spells. Indeed there was heavy snow in the SE on the 6-7th. On the 24th the maximum was 22C; on the 26th it was only 7C. It was a very wet month in southern England, but relatively dry in parts of the east.

1908 Very cold: CET 6.0C. Easter Day was late, on the 19th, and had an outbreak of northerlies; there were many brief hail and snow showers on the east coast. Snow settled overnight; 7.5 cm at Bury St Edmunds. More heavy snow showers on Easter Monday. There was then a thaw during a mild period that lasted a few days, followed by one of the most interesting weather events of the century. Low pressure led to a great blizzard in the south of England, as far north as Coventry, during the four days from 23rd to the 26th; parts of north Hampshire and Berkshire reported 69 cm of snow. Southampton had 35 cm, the deepest cover since 1881. Snow fell as far north as Staffordshire. Snow first fell on the 23rd; the 24th dawned cloudless with bright sun leading to a rapid thaw, but more snow returned in the evening. A blizzard with strong NE winds raged all day on the 25th. This was one of the heaviest snowfalls on record in the Channel Islands (over a foot of snow on Alderney). The depth of snow (40 cm) in Oxford was the heaviest there in any month since February 1888 and has not been exceeded in any month since. Southampton had 37 cm, and Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight had a foot of snow. There were some low temperatures as well: -12.8C at Garforth (Yorks) as well as Perth (hurrah), and -12C at Balmoral, on the night of the 23rd (morning of the 24th), and -12.2 near Edinburgh on the night of the 24th-25th. The maximum in Birmingham and Southampton on the 25th was only 1C. These are the latest ever British dates for temperatures less than -10C. The rapid thaw that followed this cold snap led to some severe flooding.

1910 Dull, cool and changeable.

1911 The month started with an exceptional cold spell. There were some reecord low maxima - unusually at this time of year due to strong northerly and northeasterly rather than easterly winds, as Arctic air swept the country, giving snow in the east and south. It was -2C at Hampstead midday on the 5th; and a maximum of only +0.5 at Tunbridge Wells (Kent) on the same day. Many places in the SE and Midlands were beneath freezing all day on the 5th - this is the latest date on which a "day of frost" has happened, with maximum temperatures of -2. Even Totland Bay (Isle of Wight) saw maxima of only 1, 3 and 6C on the 5th, 6th, and 7th. It was also a windy month, with severe frost and snow. Windy and dull, too: 63 mph at Gorleston (Norfolk) on the 3rd. 10cms of snow in the southeast; and 15cms of snow on Guernsey. The weather then became more settled, with clear skies and sharp frosts (-5 at good old Raunds on the 12th). It became milder and unsettled later in the month: 19C at Westminster on the 14th. Dry in the east, sunny in the SE but dull in the NW.

1912 Very dry in London, and still the driest on record in the SE. Cold: colder than March on average. It was though an extremely sunny month.

1913 An unsettled month; twice as much rainfall as usual in Wales and the Pennines. Only NE Scotland saw average rainfall.

1914 A very sunny, dry, warm month - the warmest of the century across Scotland. 24C recorded in a number of locations on the 21st.

1916 On the 27th 25C was recorded across much of the country.

1917 The coolest April on record (5.4). -15.0C, on the morning of the 2nd, at Newton Rigg in Cumbria is a record minimum. -14.4C was also recorded at Eskdalemuir the same night. There was also a notable snowfall. The first half of the month was particularly bad, with a particularly heavy snowfall in the west (particularly W Scotland and Ireland) on the 1st-2nd. -13.3C at Braemar on the 11th. The weather improved from the 19th, although there was more snow late in the month.

1919 Cold, unsettled, and stormy. A month of marked contrasts: 969 mbars at Southport on the 14th but 1042 mbars at Edinburgh on the 20th; 21C at Cambridge on the 18th but only 7C on the 27th. Most notable for the snowstorm in the south on the 27th-28th. as a depression moved south. Up to 40 cm locally on high ground in the Chilterns around London on the 28th. It was worst in the southeast, covering much of the south. In London, rain turned to snow at 1pm. As it was wet snow, it brought down many wires, and caused much disruption. A rapid thaw on the 28th led to widespread flooding.

1920 The wettest April this century, with 114 mm (4.5") of rain.

1921 Dry and sunny bit with some severe night frosts. The month had a warm start. Some places recorded 22C on the 1st. A thunderstorm in Sheffield on the 9th killed two horses. The temperature at Kew was 21C on the 13th, but only 5C on the 15th; -8C was recorded at Benson (Oxford) that day. The end of the month was warm, sunny, and cloudless, with some high temperatures on the 28th.

1922 Cold, dull, and unsettled, with snow. The only warm day was Good Friday, the 14th.

1924 Cloudy and cool, but with a warm and sunny Easter. Lucky Farnborough reached 24C on the 21st, whereas on the 5th it had only reached 3C.

1925 An unsettled month. There were 15 cm of snow lying at Edinburgh on the 1st.

1926 Very mild. It was a very warm Easter. 24C was recorded in many places on Easter Saturday, which fell on the 3rd.

1927 A cold end. There was snow at the end of the month, and -8C was recorded at Balmoral on the 29th.

1928 A very variable month. Westerly winds gave a lot of rain in the north at the start. 19C widely on the the 9th, 3C at Lympne (Kent), on the 16th, with snow, and 24C widely on the 24th (e.g. Cranwell, Worksop) and on the 26th (Southport), as winds changed from NE to S. Thunderstorms on the 10th and 11th. The return of easterlies at the end.

1929 Dry.

1930 Generally dull and wet but sunny in western Scotland.

1931 Unsettled and dull.

1933 The first half was fair and warm. There was a cold, unsettled spell from the 17th to the 22nd. It was a dry month across the south with less than an inch of rain in total in many areas.

1934 Generally dull and unsettled, and very wet in the NE. It reached 26C at Cambridge on the 15th

1935 Very wet.

1936 Cold with northerly winds for the first three weeks, then milder after the 24th. Dry in SE England and SW Scotland.

1937 Very warm (9.2C CET) – the warmest April of the 30s.

1938 The driest on record (7.1 mm, 12%). There was an absolute drought of 38 days at Fort William and Wigtown between April 3 and May 10, and 37 days at Nottingham. Some locations in the SW reported no rain at all during the month. Unsurprisingly, very anticyclonic - the record anticyclonic April in fact.

1939 Generally an unsettled month with cold spells. However, there was a fine, warm spell in the second week, when 26C was recorded at Cromer and Herne Bay on the 12th. It was a dry month in the north but wet in the south.

1940 Dull. Dry in the east and north, but wet in Wales and the west and southwest.

1941 Dry, dull, and cool (6.4). E and NE winds were plentiful. The first week was unsettled with heavy rain, and snow and sleet on the 1st. The rest of the month was dry.

1942 A very sunny month. There was a relative humidity of only 10% at Kew on the 15th, the second lowest reading on record. Warm: the first in a run of above average Aprils th took us to 1949. The final week, from the 24th to the 30th was extremely sunny and there was no rain recorded in much of England between the 10th April and 9th May. The UK saw an average of 205 hours of sun, a record until 2015.

1943 The warmest April on record in England and Wales (10.5C CET). Dry in England and Wales but wet in the NW. The month started windy in the NW, with rain the north. There were severe gales in the north on the 7th. On the 16th, 26C was reached at South Farnborough. Easter fell on the latest possible date this year (25 April) - the next time this will happen be 2038.

1944 Another very warm April (10.2). It was unsettled until the 19th, and then fine.

1945 Generally warm, sunny, and dry. Unsettled at the very beginning, it soon became warm. Althought there was a cold and snowy at end, it was still 10.1C overall. It became exceptionally warm in the third week, with 27.2C recorded at Camden and Peterborough on the 16th, the third highest April maximum of the century; 26C was reached on two consecutive dates, 16th and 17th, in Croydon. There was then an air frost and light fall of snow in the SE on the 29th.

1946 Sunny and warm (9.9C CET). There was a remarkable hot early spell: it was 23.9C at Leeming on the 2nd, 25.6 widely across the east on the 3rd, 26.5C reported reported at Greenwich on the 4th, and 26.4C confirmed at Cambridge that day. At Mildenhall (Suffolk) the temperature maximum was 26C on the 4th but only 9C on the 5th, following the passage of a cold front. The weather broke at the end of the month. The month was very dry in Aberdeen.

1947 Unsettled and cold for the first 8 days. It was then anticyclonic between the 9th and 18th, with some warm and sunny days. A deep low caused severe gales on the 23rd with a gust of 85 mph at Hullavington and Ringway. It was very wet in NW Scotland.

1948 The thirteenth consecutive month with above average temperatures across England and Wales.

1949 Warm (10.0C CET). A very warm Easter; it was 23C over a wide area on Good Friday the 15th, and then 29.4C in London (Camden Square; also 28.9C at Greenwich, Kensington Gardens and Wealdstone) on the 16th (Easter Saturday), the record maximum temperature for April, brought on southerly winds. In the heatwave, many other parts of London also reached nearly 29C. Bude in Cornwall and Kelso in the Borders even reached 24C. This is the highest maximum for April on record. It is also the earliest date this century when 80+F was reached. Given the highest April maximum occurred only midmonth, it must be possible to exceed this. Although a cold front moved east on Easter Sunday (17th), a some places still exceeded 23C (Whitstable seeing 27.8C), so the temperature exceeded 21C on all four days of Easter in some locations. The 22nd was very wet in Scotland, Loch Sloy receiving 104 mm of rain. The month was very wet in the west, but dry and very sunny in the east.

1950 Cool (7.6) and wet. Good Friday (7th) was warm and sunny, with some places seeing temperatures well over 15C, although the rest of the Easter holiday was unsettled; it was cold and stormy on the 9-10th. There was a downpour of 49 mm at Pontefract on the 13th. Cold air spread south on the 25th, bringing some light snow. As a depression moved east across the Channel, heavy snowfall in the coldest part of the day, combined with gales on the 26th caused widespread disruption south of the Thames. Heavy winds and wet snow caused widespread traffic disruption and brought many telephone and electricity lines down. 15cms of snow from Salisbury to Faversham. As the temperature was slightly above freezing, the snow was wet, which as we all know is the worst sort for disruption. The precipitation started as rain, turned to sleet, then snow, and then started to lay. In Farnham and Camberley large beech trees were brought down; in Guildford 11,000 lines were affected. Snow showers further north with some notable frosts: -8.3C at Dalwhinnie on the 25th. The last few days of the month were much more mild. This was the first beneath-average-temperature April since 1941. It was however quite a sunny month in parts of the SW.

1951 A cool (6.8C) April in a run of mild ones. Indeed, this is the only April with an average beneath 7.0C between 1941 and 1956. On the 13th of April, 13 cm wide snowflakes were reported as fallin on Berkhamsted. Wet first half in the southeast, but then anticyclonic second half everywhere. A dry month in the parts of the north.

1952 Another very warm (9.6C CET) April in this run of warm Aprils. However, at the start of the month, some snow remained lying in the Chilterns. It was often unsettled with some thundery days. On the 19th it reached 25C in the south.

1953 Unsettled, but with a fine spell between the 18th and 25th.

1954 Very dry and sunny, but with some night frosts. In some places it was the sunniest month of the year. There were however few warm days. Many places recorded no rain from the 7th to 29th.

1955 Very dry - setting the scene for the "Fen Blows" in early May. There was a heatwave at the end of the month: 25C at Margate and Herne Bay on the 29th.

1956 Cold.

1957 Warm and very dry: there was no rain at all in Ross-on-Wye all month. On the 18th, a cold NE gale gave a gust of 97 mph at Stornoway.

1958 Humidity of only 14% at Glen Derry (Grampian) on the 2nd. Notable snowfall in the south at Easter (5th).

1959 Quite warm, with a warm spell midmonth. Sunny in the east but dull elsewhere. It was wet in the SW, with Plymouth seeing twice the average rainfall. Birmingham had 38 mm of rain on the 16th.

1960 On the mild side.

1961 Very warm (10.0C).

1962 Some sharp early frosts, but as spring that year was so late (following the cold March) these caused little frost damage. 18C wasn't reached anywhere until the 22nd.

1963 Following the famous winter, snow lay in some places until April 22. Overall, though, it was slightly milder than usual.

1964 Slightly milder than usual. The month however had a very cold start, with easterly winds, and some snow in the SE. High pressure then built from the north on the 4th, and it became warm and dry.

1965 A warm start, but then cold and unsettled. A thundery, showery month. There was a violent, unexpected thunderstorm over London on the afternoon of the 7th. On the 12th a series of tornadoes caused structural damage in East Anglia. Most notable of these was the Clacton tornado that affected Clacton, and Great Holland, with structural damage and loss of chimney pots. An unsettled, cold, thundery Easter, with some snow showers (17-19th).

1966 Cold, dull, and wet. Very wet in southwest England, where it was one of the wettest Aprils of the century: there was about three times the average rainfall. There was a notable snowdall in some places in the north on the 1st; parts of Lancashire saw at least six inches, and some sites might have had a foot of snow. The snow fell as a shallow low moved across the Midlands on the 1st-2nd. There was a significant late snowfall in the south on the 14-15th, which was also a cold day in an northeasterly wind. Brighton had a couple of inches of snow; snow cover was 15 cm deep on the high ground from Kent to Hampshire. IN some places it snowed continuously for 48 hours. It was warm around Easter (10th). It was dull and cold until the the 27th.

1967 Very slightly cooler than average.

1968 A cold first half. There was a notable cold snap following notable warm spell at end of March: it was 25.0C in Cromer, Norfolk on 29 March, but -10.6C at Achnagiochan (Strathspey) on the morning of the 2nd; there was a light covering of snow across east England, with temperatures near freezing, accompanied by a strong north wind. A minimum of -9.4C was recorded near Corby, Northants., on the 4th. There was widespread light snow, and a blizzard in Scotland on the 2nd. The cold air was introduced by a cold front moving south on the 2nd; the temperature fell 10C in 3 hours in the south on the 2nd. Also on the 21st, the Great Coventry Tornado, unusually occurring on a warm, calm day.

1969 Slightly cooler than average (7.4C). There were northerly winds and snow showers at first, but then the first week was mainly sunny, and quite warm by the 7th. The rest of the month was unsettled and cold, with rain, showers, and some snow, with some sharp frosts.

1970 Cold (6.7C) - the coldest since 1941. There was a heavy snowfall on the 12th; roads were blocked in the Pennines. The record daily rainfall for the month of 182.1mm was set at Seathwaite (Cumbria) on the 22nd.

1971 130 mm of rain at Richmond (Yorks.) on the 24th. Heavy snowfall (over 25 cm) late in the month.

1972 A very average month.

1973 Cool and unsettled. A stormy first week, with severe gales over England and Wales on the 2nd, and snow in the north. Cold from the 19th with NE winds and snow at times. Eskadalemuir nearly made -10C (-9.9, to be precise) on the 28th-29th.

1974 This month was very dry in northwest Scotland (!). Overall, it was the driest April of the century in Scotland as a huge anticyclone settled over the country. It was very warm early in the month, with 22C reported from several locations in the N and W on the 4th, and 22.0C at Achnashellach (Highland) on the 7th.

1975 A dull month. There were cold northerlies for the first ten days, bringing lengthy and frequent snow showers, and frost. In Birmingham there were daily snowfalls from March 27 to April 10. There was 15 cm of lying snow in places in the SE on the 9th, and 45 cm in the Scottish Highlands. There was however a warm, sunny spell later in the month, with 23C recorded in parts on the 24th.

1976 Mostly fine and sunny. It was very dry, especially in the south. Plymouth had only 4 mm of rain all month. The period May 1975 - April 1976 was the driest 12 month period on record. On the night of the 28th, the temperature fell to -8C at Carnwath (SW Scotland). There were a few unsettled days at the beginning, with some snow in the north on the 13th.

1977 Slighly on the cool side (7.2C, compared with an averge of 8.0).

1978 Cold (6.5). There was heavy snow in the Scottish Highlands early in the month. Early on the 10th, the minimum was -10C, and the temperature then never rose above freezing all day. Snow fell in places on the night of the 10-11th.

1979 The first week was cold, with some snow. In the second week it warmed up as winds moved round to the south. On Easter Sunday (15th) the temperature reached 23C in London; two days later it only reached 7C in parts of the southeast.

1980 Only 0.9mm rain in Manchester - the driest on record in North Wales and parts of the NW of England. Overall pretty average temperatures.

1981 It was quite sunny in the first half, particularly in the north. In some places it was the warmest first half of April for twenty years, but the second half as the coldest of the century; hence temperatures overall were not too far off average. It was cloudier at times in the south, with some rain. Thunderstorms gave 83.6 mm of rain at Horsham on the 14th, leading to severe flooding. 86 mm of rain fell at Horsham (Sussex) on the 14th. Around Easter most of the country was cloudless. Cold weather came south from the Arctic on Easter Monday, the 20th, as northerly winds set in. Then very cold air swept south on the 22nd, interacting with a complex low moving east across the Midlands to bring snow. It was -11C at Dalwhinnie (Highland) on the night of the 23rd. There was a maximum of only 1C at Leeming (Yorks.) and Nottingham on the 24th. From Birmingham to Nottingham the afternoon maxima did not exceed 3C from the 24-26th. In hilly districts the temperature remained permanently subzero. There was a great blizzard with thunder on the 24th and 26th; particularly affecting the Pennines, the west, southwest, and even Salisbury Plain and the Cotswolds. Thunder and northerly winds of 40 mph. There was 20 cm of snow on the night of the 25th across southern and western England and Wales: 66 cm was reported in Gloucestershire. Level snow of 60 cm around the Peak District with 20' drifts reported. The snow was wet and drifted in very strong winds: 20' high drifts were recorded in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. The Snake Pass in Derbyshire was closed because of the risk of an avalanche. There was widespread disruption to power supplies, farming (particularly on Dartmoor), particularly livestock, and traffic. The thaw led to serious flooding in the east Midlands, in some places the worst since 1947. Hence this month just shaves it as the most interesting April for weather of the century.

1982 A pretty average month, slightly warmer than usual (8.6C).

1983 Mostly cold, particularly in the east, wet and dull, but with a more mild, sunny spell in the middle of the month. It was a cold, snowy Easter. The NE and north Midlands had snow late on Good Friday (1st). The north winds at first brought heavy rain to the east and Midlands that turned to snow. On the 2nd more snow spread south across the country, causing traffic disruption in the south. Snow in eastern England on Easter Day (3rd). Essex and Kent had 10-15 cm of cover, with more on the Downs, leading to many roads becoming blocked. There was some snow somewhere on each of the four days of the Easter holiday weekend.

1984 April is often the driest month of the year, and 1984 was particularly dry. There was no measurable rainfall across large areas of southern England. In many places (e.g. Glasgow and Cardiff) it was the driest of the century. Onich (Highland) reached 26.5C on the 25th and Londonderry 24.5 on the 26th (the April records for Scotland and Northern Ireland), although Fort William may have made 28.3C on the 24th. This was the last hot and sunny Easter (Easter Day falling quite late, on April 22), until 2011. Warm southerlies arrived on Maundy Thursday, and the next three days saw temperatures passing 21C, reaching 26.1 on Jersey on Easter Sunday. Easter Monday was very sunny across the whole country. A very sunny month in the south. There was however a wet spell midmonth, with westerly winds.

1985 Unsettled. It was mostly warm until midmonth, but with cold spells later. Cromer saw 20.2C on the 3rd. A wet start to the month; the 7th was particularly wet. It was 21.4C in London on the 19th, but the next day was much colder across the country. There were snow showers on the 24th in the north, and again on the 27-29thth, on cold NW winds. After some sharp frosts it turned milder at the end of the month.

1986 Cold (5.8C CET) and wet. The coldest and wettest April for over 60 years in Northern Ireland, with 100 mm of rain in 48 hours midmonth. There were 19 days of snow with 7 days of snow laying at Glenlivet. Similarly there were 17 days of snowfall (5 laying) at Exton (Exmoor), and 10 days of snowfall at Lyneham (Wilts.). There was a very low minimum of -10C at Lagganlia (Inverness) on the 18th. The temperature didn't exceed 15C anywhere in Britain until 4 April, and it took until the 26th to exceed 18C.

1987 The second warmest of the century (10.3), and locally the warmest. A long sunny, warm, dry spell as the month ended. Aberdeen airport reached 23.7C on the 27th and 24.9 at Kelso (Borders). Then it was 24C at Norwich on the 29th.

1988 Wet in Scotland, alternating spells of cold and warm weather. An interesting sequence of temperatures at Aviemore: it was 20C on the 6th, but with a maximum of only 5.0C on the 8th, and a minimum of -8.1 on the morning of the 13th. It was 21.3 at Coningsby (Lincs.) on the 18th.

1989 Cold. There was a heavy snowfall in the London area on the 5th, with 18 cms of snow at Tadworth (Surrey). There were damaging gales in the SW on April 11th, with a gust of nearly 100 mph recorded at Milford Haven, when the pressure was exceptionally low for April.

1990 There were some notable sharp frosts, including -9.0 at Thame, Oxon, on the night of the 4th. For many places the 4th or 5th were the coldest nights of the year. I remember the hoar frosts being particularly spectacular that year, even right on the Cornish coast. These severe frosts caused much crop damage. Ireland saw some snow on the 3rd. Yet it reached 25C at Aberdovery on the 30th, as a hot spell started on the 29th. The month was extremely sunny in eastern Scotland.

1991 Bad weather retarded the return of bird migrants. Tummel bridge went from -4.2 to +16.5 on the 14th. Strangely a very dull month in the western isles, but very sunny in Shetland.

1992 Very dull, and very wet, with widespread flooding in the Scottish Borders on the 2nd. Over 100 mm of rain fell between March 31 and April 2 from Fife to Northeast England.

1993 Dull, wet, and warm. It reached 24.2 at Aviemore, Highland, on the 30th and 25.8 at Creebridge (Galloway).

1994 There was a gust of 100 mph at Cardiff in a gale on the 1st, when the pressure was also very low for April. Overall the month was wet, but was very close to the long-term average temperature. Cromer reached 25C on the 29th.

1995 Very warm, sunny first half, but with cool spells in the second half. Northerly air became established on the 18th and led to several days of wintry showers and sharp frosts. It was the driest April for 11 years over England and Wales.

1996 Exceptionally dry in the southeast, but very wet in the west.Some snow in the south on April 14. Notable later warm spell: 23.8 at Weybourne (Norfolk) on the 21st.

1997 Very dry across much of the country (except for northern Scotland): across the country the driest since 1984, and the warmest since 1987. The Thames was at a very low level. 21.6C at Bristol on the 9th and Gatwick on the 10th. Some frosty nights though: -7 at Glenlivet on the 29th and Chesham (Bucks.) and Rickmansworth on the 21st. Some places had no rain until the 25th; Wales then received 58 mm on the 25th. It was very sunny in the south and east; 140% of expected sunshine in London.

1998 Generally extremely wet - the wettest since 1818 over England and Wales, and cold (the coldest since 1989). An average of 138mm across England and Wales. Dull in places too.Widespread and exceptionally severe flooding across the Midlands and East Anglia on Maundy Thursday 9th: a narrow but slowly moving yet very active front, fed by a cold NE airflow, became unexpectedly stationary, giving large amounts of rain on the 9-10th: 77 mm at Pershore (Worcs.) The rivers Leam and Avon were particularly badly affected, leading to flooding in Warwick and Leamington town centres, and great traffic disruption as flooding affected the A46 and M40 (with up to 3' water in some places). Further away, the Nene flooded the Northampton area, after 54 mm of rain, with 48 mm falling between 09.30 and 22.30. (There is some argument that poor water management and poor drainage contributed to the extent of the flooding of the Avon, Nene, Leam, and Cherwell.) Six deaths. After the depression moved east, the cold air trying to push south then won, and there were widespread snow showers midmonth to the 15th, leading to a "white Easter" in some places. North Wales saw particularly heavy snowfalls on the 10-11, and northern England on the 14-15th. Mold had 37 cm on the night of the 140-15th. -9.0C recorded at Altnharra on the morning of the 10th. A warm day on the 22nd, though: 23.8 at Rickmansworth. It was also very wet on the Scottish east coast. This year, April was colder than March, for the first time since 1990.

1999 Overall warmer and slightly wetter than average. The warmest April since 1987, and the fourth warmest in the last half a century. A mixed month, with warm spells at the start and end (nearly 21C at Northolt, London, on the 1st, the highest reading so early in the year for some time), and a cold snap in the middle, as two depressions moved across northern Scotland on the 10th and 11-12th, allowing Arctic air to sink south. -7C at Redesdale (Northumb.) on the 14th, and a max of just 2C at Gairloch on the 13th, and Bingley (West Yorks.) on the 16th. Heavy overnight snow in the north on the 16th, particularly affecting the Pennines and Yorkshire Dales. Elsewhere there were some severe storms: there was a a ten car carsh on the A30 in Cornwall as hail lay 5 cm deep. The cold spell ended on the 19th and 20th. Sunny in the southeast.

2000 The wettest since 1756 in England and Wales, with an average of 144m of rain across England and Wales. Notable cold spell early in the month as a cold front moved south on the 2-3rd, bringing the heaviest snowfall of the "winter" to many places in the south. Luton airport was closed by snow on the night of Monday 3rd as a cold front brought Arctic air up against the much more mild air that had been hanging on in the south. Luton had over 7cms of wet snow; a total of 66m of rain fell in 40 hours. Widespread flooding in the East Midlands and East Anglia. Brilliant display of aurora borealis (which I again manage to miss) on the night of the 6-7th. England, Wales, and parts of eastern Scotland were particularly wet. There was a little more snow in the south on the nifhts of the 12-13th and 14-15th. The southeast was particularly wet, with three times the average rainfall. Places in Kent and Herefordshire recorded 400%! On the other hand, parts of the northwest were quite dry. A month with sunshine slightly beneath average and average temperatures, the final warm third cancelling out the effects of the cold start.

2001 Overall, quite cold: the equal coldest (with 1998) since 1989. It had a warm start: 21.5C reached in London and 21C in East Anglia on the 2nd, a fine early date to top 70F - indeed, the earliest date for 70F since 1990. After the first three days things went downhill. There were then a couple of weeks of northerlies. -4C at Altnaharra on the 13th, and -6 at Loch Glascarnoch the following night. The final week was unsettled, with some thunderstorms in the south. There were 9 mm hailstones in a violent thunderstorm in the Bristol area on the 24th. 10 mm hailstones affected East Anglia on the 25th. Overall quite wet - 65% above average, but quite dry in the NW. Quite dull in the south.

2002 Overall, a mild and sunny month (the sunniest since 1990), particularly so in the SE. Although it was only slightly drier than normal, almost all the rain fell in the last five days. A warm start. 22.5C was reached in central London on the 3rd, the warmest day so early in the year since 1968. Kensington, London, saw 25C on the 23rd - the earliest date 25C has been reached since 1984. It was also very dry. It became much cooler and wetter from about the 26th on. There was no significant rainfall in SE England between 21 March and 16 April. It was the warmest April since 1987.

2003 Warm (9.6C CET), sunny, and dry. The first threeks were very settled and dry; the final week was wet and unsettled. The minimum at Hawarden (Flintshire) on the 10th was -7.5C. There was a memorable early heatwave. The warm weather began on Monday 14th. The temperature reached 27.4C (81.3F) at Stratfield Mortimer (Beds., near Reading) on the 16th - the third highest April temperature for the country ever recorded, and the highest since 1949. There were more very high temperatures to the west and north of the country on the 17th (Maundy Thursday): it was 26.9C at Lochcarron (Wester Ross) - a new April record for Scotland, 27C at Prestatyn (the highest Welsh record since 1893), and even 22.1C at Orkney. Unfortunately it was much cooler on the east coast. The southerly airflow was accompanied by a substantial and widespread Saharan dustfall originating from the west Algerian desert from the 13th to the 21st. The daily range at Altnaharra on Good Friday, the 18 April was an enormous 28.2C (from 24.5C maximum to -3.7C minimum the next night). The whole of the British Isles was cloudless on Good Friday. The hot weather was suddenly replaced by much colder easterlies over Easter (18-21st), starting on the Saturday, with some marked temperature decreases. The drought ended in the third week: some places on the east coast, near Loftus, Redcar, and Whitby, had had no measurable rain for 42 days, from 13 March to 23 April. There were some heavy showers at the end of the month. On the 30th, south of Manchester, 25 mm of hail fell in 3 minutes, containing some 12 mm hailstones. Average sunshine was 182 hours, but Torquay saw 254. Overall the month was the warmest since 1987 (and before that 1961; it was the eighth warmest on record), the sunniest since 1990, and the driest since 1997.

2004 Wet and warm. With 86 mm it was 35% above average rainfall. Particularly heavy rain around the 3rd, 17-18th, and last 5 days, with some severe thunderstorms. However, there were some dry, fine spells in between the rain. Warm second week: 20.7C in London on the 16th, and a warm, fine spell towards the end, with 23C in London on the 24th. An unusually deep depression crossed the country on the 18th. It was particularly wet in the east, and very dull in the north, where it was the dullest April in Leuchars since 1961, and the dullest on record at Kinloss.

2005 A little warmer than average, and a little wetter. Very wet in southern and western Scotland, northern England, and Devon. It was the dullest April in the Midlands since 1993. There was a particularly wet spell, with flooding, in southern Scotland and northern England midmonth, while it was cloudless in northern and western Scotland from the 16th to the 26th. It warmed up at the end of the month, with 22C in London on the 30th. The maximum of 0.1C at Lerwick on the 8th made it the coldest April day since 1985 there.<.P>

2006 It was the most westerly April since 1977, yet it was very dry, particularly in the east and south, but quite wet in the north and west. There was a cold snap at the start, with snow in the south on the night of Sunday-Monday 9-10th. The Premiership game at Sunderland was snowed off on the afternoon of Saturday 8th. There was 15 cm of wet snow at Tunbridge Wells on the morning of the 10th as heavy rain fell out of cold air. It became milder towards the end of the month; the temperature reached 19.7C at Herstmonceux (Sussex) on the 21st - the latest date 18C was exceeded somewhere in the UK since 1986. Overall temperatures were about average, although there were no very warm days. It was quite a sunny month.

2007 A magnificent month. A very anticyclonic month, with a marked absence of westerly winds. It was by far the warmest since records began - with a CET of 11.2C it was half a degree warmer than the previous record holder, 1865. There was a notable dry warm spell early and midmonth. The highest temperature of the month was 26.5C (just under 80F) at Herstmonceux (E. Sussex) on the 15th. It was a very dry month - many places had no rain until the final week. The average England and Wales rainfall was 13.2 mm, just 18% of the average, making it the driest since 1957. Even Scotland (45%0 and Northern Ireland were relatively dry. Some stations (around Thorney Island and Canterbury) saw no rain all month. It was also the second sunniest April on record (beaten just by 1893), England and Wales averaging 238 hours.

2008 Slightly beneath average temperature overall. A warm start and end, but a long cold middle from the 5th to the 20th. 20C is reached for the first time this year on the late date of 26 April. Temperatures ranged from 22.0C at Weybourne (Norfolk) on the 26th to -6.8C at Braemar on the 14th. Slightly wetter(14% above) than normal. Up to 10 cm of snow fell across the SE on the morning of the 6th. It was a thundery month with much hail. It was a cloudy month inland and in the north, but sunny along the west and south coasts.

2009 Very warm, with a CET of 10.0m but not as warm as 2007, but still the sixth warmest since 1900. Southerly winds dominated. The highest temperature of the month was 22.1C at East Malling (Kent) on the 15th, and the lowest -5.8C at Kinbrace (Sutherland) on the 18-19th. It was a dry month in England, Wales, and Scotland, but wet in Northern Ireland; an E&W average of 48.0 mm iwas 75% of normal. It was wetter in the southwest but very dry in the east. Unsurprisingly, it was a sunny month, with 117% of the average. It was particularly sunny in the south, and dull in the northeast.

2010 Unsettled at the beginning and end, but most of the month it was fine, dry, and settled, with warm days and cool nights. Overall somewhat warmer than average. Temperatures ranged from 22.1C at Swanscombe (Kent on the 28th) to -7.0C at Braemar (on the morning of the 2nd). It was a very dry month, with an England and Wales average of 28 mm (47% of the long-term mean); it was particularly dry in the SE. It was a very sunny month, with and E&W average of 221 hours - 141%, making it the fourth sunniest in the last 100 years (after 1912, 1914, 1984, and 2007, which in turn was beaten only by 1893); Jersey enjoyed 273 hours.

2011 The warmest April on record. The month was also very dry and sunny. The average England and Wales rainfall was just 13 mm (21% of average, making ti the driest since 2007 and the 6th driest in the last 100 years). It was drier than average in most places apart from parts of Cumbria and West Scotland; Moulton Park (Northants) had just 1 mm of rain all month. Amazingly, the temperature easily beat the remarkable April of 2007 (the warmest since 1865). It was particularly warm in the southeast, but significantly cooler at times on parts of the east coasts of England and Scotland, troubled by winds off the sea and fog and haar. The England and Wales average sunshine was 234 hours, (150% of 70-00 mean), making it the sunniest April again since 2011, with only three sunnier months in the last 100 years. Chichester saw 270 hours of sunshine. After a cool first few days, the weather became very warm and sunny in the south and east. Temperatures above 21C were widespread on Wednesday 6th, with 23.9C at Santon Downham (Suffolk), 23.7C at the Olympic Site and 23.6C recorded at St James Park, London. Nearly as high temperatures continued for a few days. The next week was quite warm too, with highs around 21, reaching 22.8C at Aboyne on the 11th. Continuing warm, with a very warm third week, particularly in the south and east. 26.3C recorded in St James Park on the 21st. The best Easter (it was late, Easter falling on 24 April) on record. The highest temperature was 27.8C at Wisley on the 23rd, the hottest April day since 1949 and the highest temperature of the month. The temperature fell back a bit on Easter Sunday, the 24th, with the Solent area the hottest at 25.3C. The lowest temperature of the month was -5.4C at Lochaber, Tulloch Bridge, on the 26th; the warmest night was that of the 22nd-23rd with a minimum of 14.8C at Wych Cross, Sussex. I think I would now make this month my most interesting April on record.

2012 An unusual situation in which April was significantly cooler than March. A cold, wet month. A month dominated by low pressure and winds frequently from the northerly quarter. The coldest April since 1989. The highest temperature of the month was 19.7C at Kew Gardens on the 30th, and the lowest -8.2C at Braemar early on the 5th. It reached a maximum of just +0.3C at Carter Bar in the Borders on the 3rd. There was widespread snowfall in the north on the 2nd and 3rd. Rainfall in England and Wales averaged 140.5 mm (216%); only 2000 and 1756 were wetter since records began. It was also very wet in Scotland. Liscombe (Somerset) had 290 mm. It was also a dull month, iwth an average of 136 hours (87%) making it the dullest April since 1998. The sunniest place to be was unusually Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, with 237, but Dyce near Aberdeen saw a new record April low sunshine total of just 71 hours for the month.

2013 Cold, but generally not as cold as 2012, except for parts of the west, where it was the coldest April since 1989. For the first 12 days the easterly winds that made March so cold and snowy continued to dominate, with snow still lying in parts of the country. There were some very cold days at the start of the month: the daytime maximum was only 0.5C at Lake Vyrnwy (Montgomeryshire) on the 1st. The lowest minimum was -11.2C at Braemar on the night of the 1st to 2nd. The weather changed however on the 13th as winds turned to a more southerly direction. The highest temperature of the month was 23.0C at St James Park, London, on the 25th. It was a dry month, except for the far north and west, with an England and Wales average of 37.0 mm (57% long-term average). It was particularly dry in the east and parts of NW England: Nantwich (Cheshire) had just 4.0 mm of rain. It was generally sunnier than average except for the SW. It was particularly sunny in western Scotland, with Tiree enjoying 238 hours of sunshine.

2014 The third warmest on record (after 2007 and 2011). Generally a southerly month. The south was particularly warm, dry, and sunny from the 8th to the 19th. The highest temperature of the month was in Scotland, at Aviemore on the 22nd (22.0C); the coldest night -5.2C at Aboyne on the night of the 19-20th. Very average rainfall (64.1 mm, 98%), with a lot coming in a showery start and end to the month. Monks Wood (Cambridgeshire) saw just 12.5mm all month. The England and Wales unshine was an average of 163 hours, again close to the average (98%).

2015 Warm, sunny and dry: the third sunniest and third warmest in the last century in England and Wales, and the sunniest in the UK. Mostly it was an anticyclonic and westerly month, although there was a northerly cold snap towards the end of the month, when it became much more unsettled. The highest temperature of the month was 25.2C at St Helier (jersey) on the 15th, although there were some high temperatures across the country, including early high maxima in east and NE Scotland. The coldest temperature was -8.0C at Katesbridge (Co. Down) on the 27th. Average total England and Wales rainfall was just 23.2 mm (29%). The England and Wales sunshine average was 222 hours, 149%; the UK saw 212 hours, 7 hours more than the previous record of 205 in 1942.

2016 The first ten days or so were unsettled; the rest of the month was cold and quite sunny. There was a notable heavy snowfall in the north on the 29-30th. The month was 0.9C beneath the CET average; it was also wetter on average (112%), particularly in the east. It was slightly sunnier than average. The highest temperature of the month was 20.3C at Porthmadog in Gwent on the 21st, and the lowest -5.6C at Kinbrace in Sutherland on the 28th. The greatest snow depth was 9 cm at Crombie Country Park in good old Angus on the 29th.

2017 A CET of 8.9, about a degree warmer than average, and warmer than average across the UK. Rainfall across the country was well below average, with 48% of the UK average; parts of East Scotland (Fife and Lothian) had less than 5 mm. Sunshine was 109% of average. The highest temperature of the month was 25.5C at Cambridge on the 9th, and the the lowest -6.2C at Cromdale (Morayshire) on the 18th. After a showery start the month became extremely anticyclonic. It was warm until the 9th, but then dry, cooler, and with cold nights. There was a short northerly spell with some snow and sharper frosts between the 24th and 27th. The most significant rain of the month was the 30th in the far southwest. The month was very sunny in Jersey: Fort Regent saw 285 hours.

2018 The month had a cold start, with some snow. The minimum at Tulloch Bridge on the 1st was -8.8 C.There was a remarkable early heatwave midmonth, with 25.3C recorded in London (St James’s Park) on the 18th, and then 29.1 C at the same location on the 19th, just short of the 1949 record of 29.4. Temperatures of 24.1C recorded in London on Sunday 22nd made it the warmest London Marathon on record. It was then unsettled for the rest of the month. Overall warmer than average, particularly in the SE. The minima were particularly high. It was somewhat wetter than average (119%), although drier in N Scotland. It was a dull month, with 90% of average sunshine, particularly in the SW, although again it was sunny in N Scotland.

April in history

1695 Cold (about 5.5), notable after a severe winter, with some severe frosts and snow.

1701 Very cold (4.7 C).

1756 The wettest on record (150 mm across England and Wales).

1782 Very wet, with 137 mm (5.4") of rain.

1817 Very dry...

1818 Very, very wet. 112.5mm in Oxford.

1829 Extremely wet.

1865 Very warm (10.6 C); until 2007 the warmest on record. One of the few April months in which 26.7C (80F) has been exceeded in the UK.

1868 Stones reprotedly fell out of the sky during a thunderstorm in Birmingham on the 29th.

>1870 Some high temperatures this month.

1876 There were some significant late snowfalls, with 2' in the Midlands.

1884 The strongest earthquake recorded in Britain (5.1 on the Richter scale) hits Essex, particularly Colchester, on the 22 April 1884.

1892 There was very low humidity on the 2nd: it was only 11% at Parkstone in Dorset.

1893 Very dry - there was no measurable rain in southern England. 28.9C was recorded at Cambridge on the 20th. This month was part of the great drought, Britain's longest period without rain, from 4 March to 15 May 9, 73 days, in Mile End, London, and more generally 50 days in Sussex and London. There was also a remarkable hot spell: there were 8 days over 25C, and 5 days over 26.7C (80F). The hot spell culminated with 29.0C at Stratfield Turgis on the 18th, and 28.9C on the 21st. Also the sunniest April on record.


Further information

All temperature averages are based on an aggregate measure known as the Central England Temperature index for the twentieth century. The CET series begins in 1659. I have cobbled these data together from as many sources as possible, but particularly Bob Prichard's weather column in the Guardian on a Wednesday, Philip Eden's in the Sunday Telegraph, Philip Eden's indispensable book Weatherwise (MacMillan, 1995, ISBN 0 333 61610 3), the BBC Ceefax service, and Philip Eden's Weather Log in the journal Weather. Many thanks to them all. All temperatures in Celsius (F = (9xC/5) + 32). If there is no decimal place I only have the data to the nearest degree.

If you believe these data to be inaccurate in any way, or you have additions to the list, please let me know by email to t.a.harley@dundee.ac.uk

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