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The year Arctic snows in late March killed hundreds of our sheep and lambs

Welsh hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones had to dig sheep out of 30ft snow drifts during one of worst springs on record

Farmer Gareth Wyn Jones pulls out a pregnant sheep that was trapped for four days beneath snow on his farm
Farmer Gareth Wyn Jones pulls out a pregnant sheep that was trapped for four days beneath snow on his farm in March 2013

It is not the first time that we have seen snow in late March in Wales. Snow has been falling in parts of the country this week with a warning of an "unsettled" Easter weekend. But back in March 2013, Arctic winds swept in on March 22, catching many, including Welsh hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones, by surprise.

Reminiscing about the time, he has said: “I remember the date of March 22 very clearly because it is also my son’s birthday. It had been forecast that there could be a flurry of snow, but the scale of what actually fell was unbelievable. I went up that night and made sure that the gates were left open so the sheep could come down, but the winds, the open land and the valley meant that there were drifts of up to 25ft to 30ft.

“I have heard people say about the snows of 1947, but for once I am not exaggerating by saying it was one of the worst conditions ever experienced. It was catastrophic weather in the wrong place at the wrong time. If there was a tick list with all the bad boxes, every one would have been ticked. The big problem was that it came so late in the season. We work it so as the sheep don’t lamb until late March, early April when the weather is supposedly better. There were a lot of very pregnant sheep on the hills, which is why so many died.”

Snow has fallen again in March 2024, but it appears to be short-lived. BBC Breakfast forecaster Carol Kirkwood said on Thursday, March 28: "Some of us are waking up to some snow this morning. Parts of Wales have seen some snow this morning and it is all courtesy of a weather front which has been coming in from the south-west and pushing steadily northwards with further showers following in behind. The other thing to look out for today is the wind."

It was a very different story in March 2020 when the UK went into lockdown because of coronavirus. The sun shone in those early days of lockdown and lasted for three months. March-to-May 2020 was one of sunniest springs on record and May being the sunniest calendar month on record and the season was also exceptionally dry. One person said: "It was almost as if Mother Nature was looking after us as at least we were able to enjoy time in our gardens when we couldn't leave the house."