1:10pm Monday 25th March 2013
By Ben James
March is on course to be coldest in more than half a century in Sussex, with more snow and ice predicted for this week.
While this time last year the county basked in 19C sunshine, the mercury will remain close to zero throughout the week.
Forecasters predicting that with the bitter easterly wind it will feel as cold as -7C, 17 degrees cooler than the usual March average.
Farmers and local businesses are already counting the cost of a disastrous start to the year.
Helen Roberts, Met Office forecaster, said it would remain very cold for at least the next week.
She added: “The strong easterly winds will make it feel sub zero.
“Sussex can also expect flurries of snow at any time although it shouldn’t be enough to cause any disruption.
“The other problem is ice. If there is moisture on the pavements then it will quickly turn to ice.”
Perhaps the hardest are the county’s farmers, with the current weather adding misery to last year’s washout.
As well as faltering crops, they are also reporting a spate of dead lambs unable to survive the temperatures.
Mary Passmore, of Coombes Farm, Lancing, described it as a “disaster”.
She added: “After all the rain we had last year, it is just one thing after another.
“Nothing grows in this weather and we’ve had to buy in sheep pellets. But even they are running out.
“As far as our lambing tours go, we aren’t even covering the cost of labour.
“I don’t blame people, it’s freezing.”
Peter Owen, of Whitelands Farm, Ashington, described it as the worst he had known in 50 years of farming.
Things aren’t much better for the county’s businesses.
David Sewell, whose family has run the Pavilion Gardens Café, in Brighton, for 72 seasons, described it as the worst he had known it.
He said: “I’ve been connected with the business all my life and I’ve never known it as bad.”
Mr Sewell, who is also the chair of the North Laine Traders, added: “Unfortunately it is much the same for many of our other shops and cafes.
“We rely on the warm weather to attract visitors and it has hit us hard.”
One year on
This time last year the picture could not have been more different.
On March 26, 2012, we reporter that temperatures of 19C had topped the likes of Barcelona.
Brighton beach was packed, restaurants and cafes doing a roaring trade and sunseekers had even taken to the water in canoes, paddleboards or just their trunks.
Mike Levy, one of the owners of the Castor and Pollux gallery in the Kings Road Arches, said: “There is no business. There are no customers.
“This time last year we were packed, it was glorious.”
A number of events have also fallen victim to the unseasonal temperature with Saturday’s (March 23) Crawley Town fixture cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch and today’s Young Enterprise Trade Fair at the Marina also called off.
The Pioneer Motorcycle Run, which was due to finish on Madeira Drive yesterday (March 24), was also cancelled for the first time in its 75 years.
Making the announcement on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday, organisers said they had no option given snow and severe ice.
However, that didn’t prevent a handful of hardy riders who made the trip down regardless.
Julian Mayes, MeteoGroup forecaster, said March is on track to be the coldest in 50 years.
He added that next weekend is likely to be wet, although there was a chance of a “white Easter”.
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman added it was preparing for the possibility of snow this week, particularly on Tuesday night.
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