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Northern Ireland weather updates: Met office warns of hail and snow as cold snap hits

By Cate McCurry

It may be spring - but forecasters are warning the public they may need to pull out the winter woollies as Northern Ireland braces itself for a cold snap.

Parts of the province caught a glimpse of what's coming after snow fell in a number of towns and villages last night.

Some of the white stuff is expected to fall during today's commute to work.

Forecasters say that snow will fall on hills and mountains throughout today while other parts will be hit with hail, sleet and snow showers.

Temperatures dropped to as low as 1C in parts of Northern Ireland last night bringing a chilly feel to the morning air.

The Met office reported that today will remain cold with bright spells and wintry showers while winds will be moderate to fresh from the north, but strong around the coastal areas.

Forecasters say temperatures will hit a maximum of 9C.

Tomorrow will see winds ease and the showers well scattered with bright or sunny spells.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday is brighter with occasional showers and temperatures beginning to rise.

While snow in April is not uncommon, the unexpected turn of wintry weather in the middle of spring has caused a lot of confusion on social media.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said the air moving over Britain from the Arctic will bring large thunder clouds which could result in hailstorms, thunder and lightning as well as the possibility of sleet and snow flurries.

"It's possibly created a bit of a surprise for people because we've had such a mild March," he said.

"I think it was the fifth mildest March on record going back to 1910.

"So, I think the fact we've got cold weather in combination with a warm March is probably a bit of a shock for people.

"This is a sudden, brief interlude but it's (snow) not unusual."

Many weather-watchers took to Twitter to share their shock as the snow made an unexpected appearance.

One person tweeted: "Northern Ireland, the only place that you'll see snow and sun at the same time."

Areas that were hit by snow yesterday included Ballygowan, parts of Belfast and Carrickfergus.

While wintry showers could develop anywhere, any snow is unlikely to settle on lower ground.

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