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Snow chaos swept large parts of Scotland and northern England today after a -5C freeze overnight – though the wintry snap should subside by the weekend, when Britons are expected to be able to enjoy a drink or meal outside in 70F temperatures. 

A band of snowy showers which gave the north of Scotland a spring covering moved south last night to reach parts of northern England, with meteorologists predicting the Arctic bursts – along with three inches of rain, plus a chance of hail and thunder – will continue into Friday.

Many places on the slopes of the Pennines, the Lake District and the North East of England woke to a dusting of snow, but in most areas it was nothing like the five inches recorded at Aviemore in the Cairngorms.

The Met Office said most of the snow in northern England was on the highest ground and did not settle lower down, though there were reports of some showers at low levels, including in Gateshead.

Spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said snowfall was not that unusual in England in May, with some as recently as last year, but lying snow was much more uncommon for the time of year.

The last time snow accumulated in any quantity at this time in May was in 1997, when several centimetres settled in Scotland, Wales and northern England.

Ms Maxey said: ‘Through spring you get these swings in weather types. So it’s not unusual to see a cold snap through April and May.

‘During those cold snaps you potentially see a bit of falling snow but generally over higher ground and generally in the north.’

She said snow settling was much more rare as the ground is warming up, even if it does not feel like it.

It gave skiers in some areas of the country ideal conditions to return to the slopes today after a winter of lockdown.

Lake District Ski Club members were ‘giddy’ at the unusual sight of snow-covered mountains in May, club president Mike Sweeney said.

He said about 40 people used the tow on Raise, near Helvellyn, to get to the top on the slope yesterday, when there were blue skies and views as far as Scotland, as well as deep snow.  

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District enjoy the unusual May conditions

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District enjoy the unusual May conditions

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District enjoy the unusual May conditions

Traffic stuck in the snow on the A9 at Daviot near Inverness this morning following a huge downpour overnight in Scotland

Traffic stuck in the snow on the A9 at Daviot near Inverness this morning following a huge downpour overnight in Scotland

Traffic stuck in the snow on the A9 at Daviot near Inverness this morning following a huge downpour overnight in Scotland

Two skiers stand in the snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park, after an unseasonal May snowfall allowed the reopening of the slopes

Two skiers stand in the snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park, after an unseasonal May snowfall allowed the reopening of the slopes

Two skiers stand in the snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park, after an unseasonal May snowfall allowed the reopening of the slopes

Grace Stonebanks puts out Polling Place sign in the snow and daffodils at Tarbrax Village Hall, South Lanarkshire

Grace Stonebanks puts out Polling Place sign in the snow and daffodils at Tarbrax Village Hall, South Lanarkshire

Grace Stonebanks puts out Polling Place sign in the snow and daffodils at Tarbrax Village Hall, South Lanarkshire

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

The snow started to fall on Tuesday and was still coming down on today, although visibility had got worse, Mr Sweeney said.

He added: ‘I haven’t seen snow at this time of year before, but I was speaking to some other members who said there was snow in June in 1963, although that was a very unusual year for weather.’

For many of the club’s 370 members, including Mr Sweeney, 64, who lives in Lancaster, the snow gave them the chance for their first ski of the season because of lockdown restrictions.

After spending Wednesday on the slopes, he said he and fellow skiers braved hailstones for an apres-ski pint in the beer garden of the Travellers Rest pub.

Former president of the club and assistant hut warden Gerard Unthank, 80, said: ‘It’s very unusual to get the snow at this time but we’re very pleased to get the opportunity.

‘People are very enthusiastic and excited and it’s been wonderful. Up here we rely on drifts and have snow fences because we don’t get a great depth of snow, but some of the drifts today are as high as the fences.’

Mr Unthank said there are still Covid restrictions in place in the club’s hut to ensure social distancing.

He said: ‘We came up here for one or two days in November and then lockdown restrictions came in so we weren’t able to.

‘We’ve been looking at all the snow reports while we’ve been in lockdown and we have had quite a bit of snow this year.’

The club was founded in 1936 and operates a 360-metre button tow, about an hour’s walk from Glenridding, to give access to the mountain.

However, their enjoyment may not last too much longer, as Ms Maxey added: ‘Temperatures are rising during the day and, even if they’re not rising to what we expect in April and May, they are warm enough to melt snow.’

The meteorologist said the sun is also quite strong at this time of year, meaning some people are suffering sunburn on clear days even though it feels quite close.

She said more snow and hail showers could be expected on Friday, but temperatures will rise at the weekend when a cold air mass is nudged out of the way by a warmer system from the Atlantic.

But Ms Maxey said the weather will be ‘giving with one hand and taking with the other’ as this system will bring wind and rain on Saturday.

A snowboarder enjoys the fresh snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder enjoys the fresh snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder enjoys the fresh snow at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Cars were covered in snow in many areas of Scotland this morning as the recent adverse weather continues to hit Britain

Cars were covered in snow in many areas of Scotland this morning as the recent adverse weather continues to hit Britain

Cars were covered in snow in many areas of Scotland this morning as the recent adverse weather continues to hit Britain

A skier uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders make their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders make their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders make their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Ducks walk past a polling station surrounded by a dusting of snow ahead of today's local elections in Blair Atholl, Scotland

Ducks walk past a polling station surrounded by a dusting of snow ahead of today's local elections in Blair Atholl, Scotland

Ducks walk past a polling station surrounded by a dusting of snow ahead of today’s local elections in Blair Atholl, Scotland

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Many homeowners took to social media this morning, incredulous at the sight of snow in May, such as above in Yorkshire

Many homeowners took to social media this morning, incredulous at the sight of snow in May, such as above in Yorkshire

Many homeowners took to social media this morning, incredulous at the sight of snow in May, such as above in Yorkshire

A snowboarder climbs Blencathra in the Lake District following a huge amount of snowfall overnight in northern England

A snowboarder climbs Blencathra in the Lake District following a huge amount of snowfall overnight in northern England

A snowboarder climbs Blencathra in the Lake District following a huge amount of snowfall overnight in northern England

One local in Huddersfield was surprised to wake up and find a dusting of snow on their car at this time of the year

One local in Huddersfield was surprised to wake up and find a dusting of snow on their car at this time of the year

One local in Huddersfield was surprised to wake up and find a dusting of snow on their car at this time of the year

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District, taking advantage of rare snow in May

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District, taking advantage of rare snow in May

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District, taking advantage of rare snow in May

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A skier makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

She said: ‘At the weekend we’ve got one of these low pressure systems coming in which pushes the high pressure out of the way and allows the temperatures to rise a bit but brings some wet and windy weather.

‘It pushes in from the South West on Saturday morning and by Saturday evening it will have reached as far as the north of Scotland.

‘You will see temperatures pushing up a bit then and returning more to normal with the South East potentially seeing temperatures as high as 20C just for Saturday.

‘But we’ll see some rain and breezy conditions and some of that rain could be quite heavy.’

Ms Maxey said places like Dartmoor could see as much as 70mm of rain in the 24 hours to Saturday.

Today has seen voters braving the harsh conditions to go to the polls, with local, mayoral and PCC elections taking place across Britain.  

A blizzard caused traffic woes on the A9 north of the border as others took to social media, incredulous at the sight of snow in May. 

In the south, meanwhile, rain showers are expected to fall throughout the day, and for most of the rest of the week, with as much as 5-10mm falling in just an hour in the worst-affected spots.

However, a sunny weekend is on the horizon, with highs potentially pushing 70F by the end of the week – a welcome change for many following the recent dreary weather. 

The prospect of better weather comes after lockdown-weary Britons this week demanded to be let back inside pubs immediately following the recent washout.

Hundreds of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants decided to close early on Bank Holiday Monday, as wet and windy weather put a dampener on the three-day weekend.  

Pub-goers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all been given the green light to return to pub gardens after lockdown measures were eased in each of the four UK nations.

But with more dreary conditions forecast for the coming days, al fresco drinkers and pub landlords are calling on Boris Johnson to get indoor hospitality open again in England ahead of May 17 – the Government’s current date for fully reopening pubs, bars and restaurants.

Many took to Twitter to let out their frustration after the bank holiday washout, with one saying: ‘What a complete flop of a bank holiday weekend!

‘Saturday’s meal out and drinks cancelled. Yesterday’s drinks out cancelled. Today’s lunch out cancelled.  Let us inside the pubs.’  

The top of Blencathra in the Lake District was covered in snow today following a downpour overnight across northern England

The top of Blencathra in the Lake District was covered in snow today following a downpour overnight across northern England

The top of Blencathra in the Lake District was covered in snow today following a downpour overnight across northern England

Thee A9 at Daviot, near Inverness, was heavily affected by the downpour, with traffic moving slowly through icy conditions

Thee A9 at Daviot, near Inverness, was heavily affected by the downpour, with traffic moving slowly through icy conditions

Thee A9 at Daviot, near Inverness, was heavily affected by the downpour, with traffic moving slowly through icy conditions

A man takes a photo of the scenery at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A man takes a photo of the scenery at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A man takes a photo of the scenery at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District following a heavy blanket of snowfall

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District following a heavy blanket of snowfall

Snowboarders Kev Dunnabie and Rob Richardson on Blencathra in the Lake District following a heavy blanket of snowfall

A voter enters a polling station in Blair Atholl, Scotland, against a backdrop of snowy conditions during today's local elections

A voter enters a polling station in Blair Atholl, Scotland, against a backdrop of snowy conditions during today's local elections

A voter enters a polling station in Blair Atholl, Scotland, against a backdrop of snowy conditions during today’s local elections

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers rest during heavy snowfall at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Areas of Yorkshire including Halifax, pictured above, woke up to snow following freezing temperatures overnight

Areas of Yorkshire including Halifax, pictured above, woke up to snow following freezing temperatures overnight

Areas of Yorkshire including Halifax, pictured above, woke up to snow following freezing temperatures overnight

A snowboarder uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder uses a button lift to ascend at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

A snowboarder makes their way down the slope at the Lake District Ski Club on Raise, next to Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park

This week, political party leaders have braved the wet weather in a last push for votes ahead of today’s local elections.  

Conditions were damp in Birmingham as Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer visited the city to campaign alongside West Midlands metro mayor candidate Liam Byrne and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner. 

This morning, Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds voted early in London amid signs he is on court to take a wrecking ball to the Red Wall again. 

The Tories have been boosted by the latest poll showing they have a huge 10-percentage point lead – driven by the success of the vaccine rollout.

Keir Starmer is braced for a disastrous ‘hat-trick’ of defeats in the Hartlepool by-election, as well as the two key mayoral races in the West Midlands and Tees Valley.

Allies believe a hard-Left challenge is inevitable if the results in his first major electoral test are as bad as feared – but they are also confident he can survive.

Votes will be cast in every part of Great Britain, with the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments, London Assembly, and Hartlepool by-election up for grabs.

More than 5,000 council seats in England will also be contested, along with 13 mayoralties and 39 police and crime commissioner positions.

YouGov’s final poll before the big day found the Tories were on 43 per cent nationally, ahead of Labour on 33 per cent.

The research, conducted over the past two days, found 40 per cent had a favourable view of Mr Johnson, compared to just 31 per cent for Sir Keir Starmer.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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