Forget spring, brace yourself for the blizzards hitting this weekend.
THE daffodils and crocuses may be trying their best – but spring won’t have sprung for a while yet, as South Yorkshire faces more weather misery and sustained snowfall this weekend.
Residents are warned to brace themselves for blizzard conditions throughout today, Saturday and Sunday.
Temperatures are expected to plummet tonight, with the bitter cold spell lasting into tomorrow – only three days on from the ‘official’ first day of spring on Wednesday.
But anyone looking forward to digging out their sledge will be disappointed – the ‘snow’ is more likely to be hail and wet sleet, settling only on higher ground.
John Penston, a weather forecaster for Meteogroup, said: “Tonight it is going to turn bitterly cold with a strong easterly wind and wintry showers.
“On Saturday it will be largely dry with a few wintry showers blowing in from the east. The snow will probably not stick at lower levels.
“Maximum temperatures on Sunday will be between one and two degrees, but could also drop to below freezing.”
For most people mid-March snow is dismaying – but, for businesses, the consequences stretch far beyond a hike in heating bills.
Garden centres have been hit hard by one of the coldest winters in 25 years and this latest bout of bad weather poses a further threat to their livelihood.
Ferndale Garden Centre in Dronfield has reported a 20 per cent drop in trade compared to this time last year.
Managing director Neil Grant said: “It’s dire to be honest.
“This time last year we were blessed with an early spring and good weather. This year people are just not gardening.
“The whole industry is being affected by the weather.
“We have had 12 months of bad weather starting at the beginning of last April. We didn’t get any decent dry spells until September and even then it wasn’t for very long. It’s the wrong weather at the wrong time.”
Wildlife has also been affected, with buds bursting later than normal and the bee population struggling.
Jez Daughterty, who runs the Sheffield Honey Company near Dungworth, said the region’s bee population was ‘struggling a bit with the cold conditions’ but said he believed numbers would increase once warmer weather arrived.
He said the slow arrival of spring might also be because many plants did not get pollinated last year due to the poor weather.
It comes as wildlife groups warned that birds, bats and frogs are at risk of survival due to food shortages and freezing habitats.
Frog breeding usually occurs around this time of year, however rivers and streams have repeatedly frozen over, killing the frog-spawn.
Ben Keywood, from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, said many birds started building nests early in the year during days of sunny weather.
But he said a lot of nest building had stalled because of the recent cold snap.
He said: “I spotted a blackbird in my garden starting to build a nest but it didn’t complete the process – that’s because of the change in weather.
“They are going through the motions but just not finishing the nest.”
Few insects have been seen so far this year, cutting off the food supply to birds such as house martins and swallows.
Butterflies and bats have rarely been seen this year, and other species have been recorded going back into hibernation.
Mr Keywood said the Trust had also seen low turnouts on its nature walks.
“A lot of the walks that we plan for this time of year, to see certain types of wildlife, have been unproductive. We have had low attendance.
“When people have gone along to our events, they have not seen the wildlife we would normally expect to see.”
Speaking about the potential consequences of the cold weather, he added: “We are seeing most species emerge about a month late.
“That means some of the animals might not survive as they need to have built up fat reserves.”