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A fine Easter weekend? Don't bank on it!

Paul Hudson | 16:48 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

It's one of the busiest times of the year at our airports - full of passengers fleeing the country in search of warm sunshine.

And their search for better weather abroad is understandable. A look back over past Easters show that fine, warm, sunny conditions are definitely the exception to the rule.

In 1998, torrential rain on Good Friday brought severe flooding to parts of Central Britain, leading to insurance claims in excess of £1 billion pounds. In fact the inadequacy of the flood warning system led to an inquiry, the result being a much more sophisticated flood warning system that we have relied on heavily ever since.

Easter 2000 was also ruined across parts of the UK with some torrential rain.

And as strange as it may sound, you are statistically more likely to have a white Easter than a white Christmas. We only have to go back 2 years, to Easter 2008, when heavy snow fell the night before Easter Sunday, leaving virtually the whole of Yorkshire blanketed in several inches of snow.

Easter 1975 was also cold and wintry across Yorkshire with raw Northeast winds. In the Midlands, Birmingham had 6 inches of snow throughout the Easter weekend.

Snow also caused widespread travel disruption across the UK in 1983.

Spring can be a season of large extremes. There is often a lot of cold air left over from winter, and importantly the North sea is at its coldest in March and April, leading to chill sea breezes. But at the same time, the sun is gaining strength day by day, so spells of warm weather can always take us by surprise.

Runswick.jpg

March 1965 was a month of incredible extremes, highlighting just what is possible at this time of the year, producing some truly astonishing statistics.

During the first week of March the temperature had dropped to minus 21.7C across Scotland, making it the coldest day of the year, very unusual for that to occur in March.

But only 3 weeks later, temperatures rocketed 25C in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. This is still the joint UK record for the hottest March day ever. But any thoughts that we were in for a 'barbecue summer' proved unfounded - as temperatures for the rest of Spring and Summer never exceeded those balmy levels, 25C turning out to be the hottest day of the year.

It must have been a wonderful weekend along the coast, with 25C (77F) also recorded in Whitby, on March 29th.

Warm, sunny Easters are rare, but do happen from time to time. And as you might expect, the later Easter falls, the more likely you are to have a warm weekend.

Easter 1949, which fell that year on April 16th, saw temperatures rise to 29C (84F) in London, with temperatures across much of the country exceeding 21C (70F). Easter 1984 fell in late April, with warm and sunny weather for most, and more recently the early April Easter of 2007 was fine and warm.

Unfortunately this Easter weekend is unlikely to deviate from the norm, being mostly cool and unsettled, but with some spells of pleasant sunshine - so although a complete washout is unlikely, showers or longer spells of rain are likely.

We should stand a better chance of warmer weather next year, with Easter falling almost a month later. But don't bank on it!

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