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Why do we have snow in April?

Credit: ITV West Country
  • ITV West Country's Charlie Powell explains why we have snow in April

Last week gave us a string of settled, warm, sunny days with temperatures in the mid-teens. This week couldn't be more different, with heavy showers, hail, below average temperatures and snow! So what's going on?

Well, spring is always a topsy turvy season in terms of weather as we move from winter to summer. The atmosphere is taking on more energy from the longer days and more heat from a stronger sun. This is why we tend to have changeable, showery weather. It's also why we are able to see prolonged warm spells, but that cold winter air is never too far away.

This week, not only have we got low pressure bringing sunshine and showers, we also have some of that cold air being drawn down from quite far north. That makes the atmosphere very unstable, like a pan of boiling water with bubbles rapidly and randomly bursting to the surface. It makes the air want to move around a lot more, and rising air means more cloud, which means more rain.

Over the last couple of days the air has been cold enough to make sure that what's coming from the heavy showers is snow. Admittedly it's been on hills above around 300 metres - that's only half way up Dartmoor...

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It's therefore quite likely to see snow falling in April as a result, more common than November in fact, but it's unlikely for snow to last long or even settle. That's because the same strong sun that's helped create the unstable atmosphere in the first place is of course strong enough to melt any snow that accumulates.

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