Belfast Telegraph

After the snow, get set for a wet and windy Easter

By Linda Stewart

Those winter coats and jumpers you packed away for later in the year? Dig them all out again.

That icy blast we endured this week has been a serious shock to the system — and forecasters say there is no chance this Easter of recapturing the balmy glow of March.

Unfortunately it was simply an aberration and the holiday weather is going to be the usual unsettled mixture, with some particularly stormy conditions forecast for Easter Monday.

Northern Ireland basked in the highest March temperatures for nearly 50 years, with reports from Armagh Observatory revealing that it was much sunnier, warmer and drier than average. We enjoyed 120.6 hours of sunshine — 23% higher than the most recent 30-year average.

Rainfall was just a quarter of the average and a third of that came on a single day. Meanwhile, temperatures on March 27 soared to 21C, the highest March temperature in 47 years.

The unseasonably warm weather following a mild winter has had Mother Nature fooled, with bluebells and snowdrops blossoming weeks ahead of schedule. Two farmers near Ballymoney were even photographed making silage some two months earlier than usual.

But Meteogroup forecaster Chris Burton says we’re now returning to more typical weather for the time of year.

“What we had was quite unusual, although the weather in this country is quite changeable,” he said.

“We had a mass of high pressure over the North Sea for several weeks bringing clear skies which allowed temperatures to rise, although it was still quite chilly at night. Warmer air was also coming up from the Continent.”

But Northern Ireland was left in shock after icy winds, sleet, hailstones and snow battered the country on Tuesday, bringing everyone back to earth with a bump.

And the unsettled weather is going to dominate the Easter holidays. “The weather now is more usual. Snow is not that unusual in early April,” Chris said.

This morning will see a |chilly, frosty start with cloud spreading from the north-west right across Northern Ireland through the afternoon. Conditions will be relatively dry with highs of 10C.

“Going into Good Friday, it will be generally cloudy and overcast with a few spots of light rain or drizzle, particularly in the north and west, and with highs of 12C,” Chris said.

“Saturday will be similar but with more chance of drizzle and highs of 12C. Easter Sunday will be cloudy and drizzly and not very nice. There could be some heavy rain in the afternoon, spreading east, and highs of 12C.

“On Easter Monday you’re looking at quite windy and heavy rain and it will be turning a lot colder with highs of 8-10C. It’s not looking like great weather. Into the rest of the week it is looking unsettled.”

The Met Office is predicting a dry start this Friday before rain and hill snow, generally light and patchy, spreads south, and further bands of rain crossing Northern Ireland on Saturday and Sunday.

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