Where were the April showers?

EVENING Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on the driest and warmest April ever recorded, accompanied by more than 250 hours of glorious sunshine.LAST month was the driest and warmest April in Suffolk for at least 170 years.

EVENING Star weatherman KEN BLOWERS looks back on the driest and warmest April ever recorded, accompanied by more than 250 hours of glorious sunshine.

LAST month was the driest and warmest April in Suffolk for at least 170 years.

Local records going back to 1840 reveal that extremely dry Aprils are a rarity in the region but Suffolk saw rainfall totals of 0.04 of an inch in 1929 and 0.09 in 1893 but the last notably dry April was in 1996 when the total was 0.15 in.

Anti cyclones controlled the weather for almost the whole of the month. These high pressure systems were initially centred over Ireland and later over Scandinavia and the Norwegian Sea while Atlantic depressions were diverted south-eastwards towards Spain.

In East Anglia winds were constantly from some easterly point on 15 days and temperatures exceeded the average maximum of 53F(12C) on 29 days.

The hottest day was on April 15 with a peak of 75F(24C) - a figure more typical of a warm mid-August day.

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On some occasions the easterly winds gusted to 20 mph keeping coastal districts several degrees cooler than inland.

The last substantial rainfall in the region occurred on February 25 when a North Sea depression produced nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain over a wide area.

In March there was only negligible rainfall and the top reading was 0.36 in on March 3.

The driest year on record in Suffolk was in 1921 with only 13.64 in compared with the long-term average of 23.79 in.

It was also one of the sunniest Aprils on record. On some days there were nearly 11 hours of bright sunshine and weather stations registered a total of 250 hours during the month - nearly 100 hours above normal.

There was also the rarity of completely cloud-free skies because dry air aloft caused contrails from airliners to rapidly disappear.

Rainfall totals for April were record-breaking. At Ipswich and Belstead the total was 002 of an inch and other locations had similar amounts.

This figure is 1.66 inches below the long-term average and has never before been recorded.

April saw long hours of brilliant sunshine on many days. The totals were Colchester 252.2 hours, Cavendish 234.8 hours and Wattisham Airfield 230 hours.

APRIL AVERAGES and EXTREMES

Average day maximum 53F

Average night minimum 38F

Average number of air frosts 4

Average number of ground frosts 12

Rainfall (1903 to 2006) 1.68 inches

Duration of rainfall 31 hours

Average hours of sunshine 160 hours

Maximum possible daily sunshine 13.8 hours

Midday sun altitude (April 15) 48 degrees

Barometric pressure (mean sea level) 1013 millibars

North Sea temperature (10 miles out) 48F

Highest daytime temperature 76F on April 16 2003

Lowest daytime temperature 37F on April 2 1968

Coldest night 23F on April 4 1996

Highest recorded wind speed 73 mph on April 2 1973

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