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Lockdown April not only broke sunshine records in East Anglia - it smashed them

Sunset at Rumburgh near Bungay in Suffolk on 29 April 2020 close to the end of the sunniest April on record in East Anglia. Credit: Danny Block

As Britain shut up shop and stayed home to help beat the coronavirus, the sunshine continued to beam down across the land, not only breaking the April record for sunny weather but smashing it into oblivion.

With everyone urged to remain in lockdown, the sunshine could largely be enjoyed only during single daily exercise periods or in back gardens.

In East Anglia, the sunshine total reached 257.6 hours or more than 8½ hours of sunshine on average per day - less than 5½ a day is more normal for April. That would have been an impressive total in any summer month in East Anglia let alone in the middle of spring.

258 hrs
New April sunshine record in East Anglia set in 2020
238 hrs
Old April sunshine record in East Anglia set in 1942

April 2020 beat the previous East Anglia sunshine record of 237.8 hours, set in April 1942, by nearly 20 hours.

Shoeburyness on the south-east tip of Essex was the sunniest spot in the UK during April with 280.2 hours of sunshine.

Houghton Lock on the River Great Ouse between Huntingdon and St Ives in Cambridgeshire pictured in the sunshine on 7 April 2020. Credit: Martin Casey

Sunshine records for East Anglia have been kept by the Met Office since 1929 and in the 1,096 months since they started, the region has only had 26 sunnier months than April 2020.

Ten each of those were in June and July, four were in May and two were in August.

April 2020 was also the sunniest month of any in East Anglia since July 2018, when there was 282.6 hours, making that month the third sunniest July on record.

Morning sunshine on Friday 24 April 2020 at Acle in Norfolk. Credit: Andrew Bailey

Not only was April very sunny, it was also very warm - the joint fifth warmest on record in East Anglia since the Met Office started taking the region’s temperature in 1884.

The mean temperature for the month, which takes into account the highest temperatures by day and the lowest by night, was 10.5°C. That made it a statistical tie with April two years ago in 2018 and the highest since 10.7°C in April 2014.

Daytime maximum temperatures during April were around 16°C, which was some 3°C above average and more like May than April.

Trees in blossom set against stunning blue skies at Halstead in Essex on Sunday 19 April 2020. Credit: Peter Reeve

"Although April 2020 will be remembered for being the sunniest April on record in England and the UK, along with the sunshine, the month was largely dry with mean temperatures well above average for most parts of the UK.

"The UK climate is warming, and it is notable that in a Met Office series from 1884, the Aprils of 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2020 are all in the top ten warmest.”

– Dr Mark McCarthy, Head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre

The highest temperature of the month in the Anglia region was 24.6°C recorded in Cavendish in Suffolk on 12th April, which was Easter Sunday.

The lowest overnight temperature of the month was -4.5°C measured in Santon Downham close to Thetford Forest on the Suffolk-Norfolk border on 1st April.

April 2020 was the joint fifth warmest April since 1884 in East Anglia along with 2018. Credit: Data from the Met Office

After a dry March in the Anglia region, April continued in the same vein with less than two-thirds of the usual rainfall.

For most of April it was very dry with nearly 70% of the entire month’s rain falling in the final three days of the month.

The monthly rainfall total for East Anglia was 26 mm (1 inch) which was 59% of the April average rainfall which is 44 mm (1.7 inches).

The wettest place in the region was Harpenden in Hertfordshire with 46.0 mm rainfall (85% of average) and the driest was Weybourne in Norfolk with 15.8 mm (37% of average).

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