Cheers sunny April – it was fun while it lasted

This month has been the frostiest for 60 years and one of the driest on record. The only thing it has lacked is April showers.

While the month is ending with a little rain, it has been largely bone dry.

And, while last year April was unusually warm, this month is has been generally chilly.

An average of 13 days of air frosts has been reported across the UK, topping the 11 days seen in April 1970, according to provisional figures from the Met Office. Across the four nations, England has reported 12 days and Wales 11 days. Scotland has reported 16 days, making it the frostiest April since records began in 1960.

It comes after several days of clear skies and sunshine across the UK, with pleasant double-digit daytime temperatures felt across large parts of the country.

The peak daytime temperature was felt last week in Porthmadog, Wales, where the mercury reached a maximum of 20.8C on Friday. In the West Midlands it peaked at around 19C (66F), allowing a pleasant experience for pub-goers taking advantage of this month’s easing of lockdown restrictions.

Up to April 22, there had been an average of 12.8mm of rain across the UK, much lower than the April average of 72.53mm, according to Met Office figures. The figure in the West Midlands this month is even lower than the UK average, at below 10mm.

A typical April in the UK would have had 70 per cent of its rainfall by now, but it instead has just had 18 per cent.

The strange month isn’t unprecedented. We often experience unusual patterns of weather – and in 2016 the West Midlands was under a blanket of snow in May that caused chaos for a few hours before it melted away as quickly as it arrived.

But experts do believe there is more going on with our weather.

There was plenty of fun in the sun.

Chartered environmentalist Dr Hamid Pouran, a lecturer in environmental technology at Wolverhampton University, said we are likely to be less surprised in future when we get a cold summer or unusually mild winter.

He said: “The uncertainty around climate change means that we may see more extremes in years to come for driest, wettest and coldest.”

Dr Pouran, who has a PhD in environmental science and environmental pollution, said the initial conversation around weather had been about global warming and the idea that the global temperature had been rising, which was now a scientifically proven fact.

But he said climate change had more to do with the changes being felt. A dry April or an unusually wet July are tangible evidence to us all that something isn’t quite right with our climate.

Nor does global warming mean it will always feel warmer. Instead we will experience more fluctuation and more extremes.

He said: “When we talk about climate change, we look at how the global temperature on average will increase – but some places will be colder and there is a patchy pattern and no area with similar temperatures. Models that are run by scientists show that, in the future, the average global temperature will be more than it is now and, as well as that we will have more severe events, such as droughts and heatwaves.

“I believe the driest April was in 1938, but this month has been very dry and frosty and I think that this is one of the effects of climate change as it may be happening once every 60 years, then may become once every 10 or 15 years.”

Dr Pouran said the continued uncertainty around climate change meant that it could push extreme weather in years going forward and not just in one month, but at different times.

He said: “One of the problems with climate change is the uncertainty it brings.

“So it might be April next year or May after that, and whatever extreme it is, whether its rain, frost or heat, it will be because of climate change.

“It will happen more frequently and will change with respect to time and across the year, with more extremes and different extremes and, as scientists, we know this will happen.

“The extreme weather events are kind of interconnected as well, such as with the wildfires in Australia last year, which followed a dry season with not much precipitation or rain.”

Dr Pouran also said there were ways to change behaviour to help alter the effects of climate change.

He said: “These climate changes will impose some changes in our lives going forward, such as air conditioning systems, which we don’t have in the UK at the moment, but may need in 20 years time.

“People can make some change such as taking public transport and using less meat as the carbon footprint for beef and other meat is substantially higher than for vegetarians.

“There are other behaviours, such as using double glazing in your home, or installing a smart system to turn off the thermostat and heating system when you are not at home.”

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