In pictures: See the spring snow that shocked West Sussex in April 2008

It is not unheard of for it to snow in April but when four inches fell in West Sussex in 2008, it came as a shock.

It was the first heavy snow for years, bringing winter back to West Sussex on Sunday, April 6, 2008, just as spring was getting underway.

There was delight for children and the young at heart, making snowmen, throwing snowballs and going sledging, but disappointment in Arundel, where the arrival of the snow a few minutes before the start of the Arundel Park 10k race led to it being cancelled.

Snow on the high ground in the park would have made conditions treacherous for the hundreds of runners and organisers, the 1st Arundel Scout Group, had no alternative but to call off the event.

By late morning, a blanket of white up to four inches deep covered the area from the top of the South Downs to sea level at Littlehampton, where instead of sandcastles, a snowman stood on the beach.

Highdown Hill, north of Worthing, was particularly popular with families, as hundreds of people took to the slopes on sledges, tea trays, snowboards or just plastic sacks.

Thankfully, police reported no serious accidents on the roads, in spite the think layer of snow.

It was the largest national April snowfall since 1989, turning the south coast into a winter wonderland. Severe weather warnings in the previous week had only hinted at the severity of the blizzard, which coated the town in white from around 9.15am onward.

Sussex Police received more than 120 weather-related calls, although no serious incidents were reported, and rail services suffered only minor disruption, with a Southern Railway spokesman reporting infrequent delays of 'up to 10 minutes at the worst', and bus services were unaffected.

West Sussex County Council admitted it had been taken by surprise by the snow and had not gritted roads in advance.

A spokesman said at the time: “The gritters did not go out Saturday because the official forecast information we received was that temperatures would not fall below zero. Had there been a prediction of freezing temperatures they would have gone out. The gritters and ploughs were mobilised first thing Sunday morning as soon as it became clear that snow was settling.”

The Herald newsdesk was inundated with readers’ photographs of snowy scenes. Families wasted no time in taking advantage of the freak weather, with sleds being dusted off and put to use in parks across Worthing.

Some acted as any self-respecting residents of a seaside resort would and, with temperatures heading towards freezing, headed for the beach.

By noon, the shoreline was dotted at irregular intervals by snowmen of varying size and quality as tourists and locals alike posed for pictures in the unseasonal snow. There was a snow dog, called, inevitably, Snowy, as people took creative control of the situation.

But the magical scenes did not last long, with sunlight breaking through the clouds in the early afternoon as the thaw set in.