SOMETIMES, as the late, great Prince once reminded us, it snows in April. And that’s what’s happened in Scotland, with Aberdeen and Inverness and all points north-east in particular seeing snow yesterday. In other parts there was a lighter scattering. After a weekend of sunshine things have taken a turn for the wintry.

How is this possible? Spring has sprung, hasn’t it?

The first swallows may have been spotted in the UK, but April is often the cruellest month when it comes to weather. Or at least cruelly disappointing. In fact, in Scotland snowfalls are not unheard as late as June.

We get all the snow, don’t we?

We get more than the rest of the UK, certainly. On average, Scotland sees 38.1 days of snow or sleet in a year, compared to 23.7 days of snowfall on average for the rest of the country. The Cairngorms invariably receive the most, with an average of 76.2 days. Cornwall, by comparison, can expect just 7.4 days a year of snow or sleet, according to the Met Office.

It’s the price of living in Scotland, I suppose.

Well, yes, but the truth of it is we are actually quite lucky. We really have temperate weather in Scotland. Remember, Glasgow is slightly to the north of Copenhagen and Moscow in terms of latitude, but our weather is half as severe as the Russian capital’s, thanks to the ameliorating effects of the Gulf Stream. So, if global warming ever turns that off our heating bills are going to go through the roof.

Ah well, May’s not so very far away.

Indeed, although there was snow in the Highlands in May last year. Indeed, during the Little Ice Age between the 16th and 19th centuries, snow and ice were common in Scotland in May. During the Great Frost of 1740 Scottish records show that the country remained frozen until the end of May that year.

That’s snow joke.

Have you been saving that one up?

I’ve been itching to use it. Anyway, tell me something I didn’t know.

Okay, did you know that there are more than 400 words in Scots for snow.


Yes, according to a survey carried out by the University of Glasgow in 2015 as part of a project to compile a Scots thesaurus 421 words for snow were listed.

Such as?

There’s “snaw-pouther” which means fine, driving snow, “spitters”, which refers to small drops of wind-driven snow or rain. And then there’s “flindrikin”, which means a slight snow shower. If we must have them, they’re the best kind.

You are not keen on snow, then?

Not in April and May, no. But it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s worth remembering that April 2020 was the sunniest record in the UK on record. In Scotland it proved sunnier than April 1942, which had been the previous record holder. It was also the third driest April in Scotland on record.

So, what can we expect for the rest of the month weatherwise?

I’m not a meteorologist, but who was it that said, “Scotland only has two seasons. July and Winter”?