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03/27/2013

Dreaming of a 'White Easter' ? No letup in British winter until May

Statue

A statue in London's Trafalgar Square. (AP Photo / Andrew Matthews)

Britain's Met Office has warned the weather-weary U.K., which has already slogged through a long winter, that the unseasonably cold temperatures will last until the end of April.

Poor Britain.

Spring is often the loveliest time of the year in the U.K. - lambs gamboling, flowers blooming, people standing outside the pub with a pint rather than huddling together indoors.

And Easter weekend can sometimes be unseasonably warm, causing Londoners to pack picnics and lie about in Royal Parks, working on a lovely sunburn just in time to head back to work.

But this could be the first "White Easter" in years. So cue major groans following the Met Office prediction. 

Being displeased with the national weather forecaster is something of a national pastime in Britain. In 2009, the Met Office made a cheerful prediction that the U.K. would experience something called a "barbecue summer" - in other words, summer.

You should know that the U.K. doesn't always have a proper summer. Sometimes, you might get a few days in a row that are over 25C, and everyone walks around saying, "ooh, isn't this lovely - but it's getting a bit warm now" and London Underground puts up signs warning commuters to always have a bottle of water to hand. (It does get super-hot on the Tube.)

The summer of 2009 was, obviously, nothing close to a barbecue summer and many, myself included, were Quite Cross. The episode prompted much debate about what the Met Office should say - and when it should just stay quiet.

Unpleasantness aside, this year's run of nasty weather has had serious effects.

In Northern Ireland, authorities are having trouble getting to vulnerable people and livestock; economists are warning the snow and cold could knock Britain into a triple-dip recession; in northern England, a man on his way home after a night out died in blizzard conditions, according to the Lancashire Telegraph; parts of Scotland have suffered without power for days.

There is one sector that's benefiting from the horrid conditions: Sky News reported vacation companies are doing well as Britons flee for warmer climes.

Who can blame them?

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. As a reporter with the Associated Press, based in London, she wrote extensively about British politics (and complained constantly about the weather.) Follow her on Twitter @JQStar.

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