UK April snow

People walking their dog are caught in a heavy snow shower on Wimbledon Common on a cold morning with freezing temperatures on April 12
For gardeners whose flowers have been suffering from the cold, the news will come as little surprise.

This April has been Britain's frostiest in at least 60 years.

And experts warn it will cause severe damage to the harvest of plums, cherries and other soft fruit.

There have been 13 days of air frost in the past month, making it the frostiest April since records began in 1960, provisional Met Office data shows. The previous record holder was April 1970, with 11.

Despite the cold nights, the sunny weather means this month is also on course to be among the driest on record. So far there has been only 7 per cent of the average rainfall for the time of year. Mark McCarthy, of the National Climate Information Centre, said: 'We've been seeing a high frequency of frosts overnight throughout April thanks largely to persistent clear skies.'

But the conditions have caused havoc for many farmers and growers. Guy Barter of the Royal Horticultural Society said: 'Considerable damage has been experienced in many gardens with flowers such as camellia and magnolias being scorched, and cherry, plum and pear blossom injured so that the fruit crop will be reduced.'

Across the four nations, England has reported 12 days of air frost and Wales 11 days.

Scotland has reported 16 days, making it the frostiest April since records began in 1960.

Northern Ireland has currently seen eight days of frost, not yet exceeding its current record of 11 days set in April 1983.

It comes after several days of clear skies and sunshine across the UK, with 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.

But clear skies mean that chillier nights and more frosts are expected to continue as the month comes to a close.

Annie Shuttleworth, meteorologist at the Met Office, said: 'We've seen high pressure dominating for the last few weeks which is why we've had the drier weather and less cloud.

'Clearer skies mean temperatures can cool off more readily overnight when there's no sun but in the day clearer skies can act to warm up the daytime temperatures.'

Average overnight temperatures have been hovering around freezing at 0.4C (32.7F), which is three degrees lower than the UK average for April at 3.4C (38.1F).

The maximum daytime temperature has also been slightly lower than average at 11.4C (52.3F), compared with 12C (53.6F) which is normal for April.

Ms Shuttleworth said that sunny spells would still feature in the coming days, but parts of the country would also see showers, and overnight temperatures would stay low.

The weekend weather was set to maintain the trend of what has been one of the driest Aprils on record, with the UK seeing less than a fifth of the average rainfall for the month so far.

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.

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

But Ms Shuttleworth said rain in the coming days could drive up averages.

'You could get some rain over the next couple of days that will bring the totals up,' she said.

'It has been a very dry April, with quite a few areas of the UK seeing quite a small margin of their average April rainfall.

'Some counties may see their lowest April rainfall but it won't be a UK-wide thing.'