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‘Blood Rain’ Forecast for Halloween in the UK?!

If you're checking the weather forecast for Britain over the next week or so you may be a little surprised by what you see. If you spot that ‘blood rain' is predicted for Halloween you'd be excused in thinking that someone was playing a prank.

However, experts are indeed forecasting that parts of the UK will experience a reddish coloured rain known as ‘blood rain'. Don't worry though, rather than it signalling the end of the world, it is simply a natural phenomena caused when rain picks up sand from deserts.

As a Met Office spokesman explains: "It is a rather grandiose term for fine desert sand particles that are whipped up by winds and mix with the moisture in clouds". Winds then carry the clouds over great distances, before the moisture is deposited from them as red or brown rain (though unfortunately not quite as bright red as the picture above).

In this case, we have the Sahara desert to thank, where storms have mixed huge amounts of sand with the clouds. Particularly strong winds are now in the process of blowing those clouds over towards the UK. However, before they reach us, these warm desert winds are expected to raise temperatures in Britain to as high as 20C (68F) over the next few days.

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Lion on the Loose in Britain?!

One of the stranger stories of the year hit Britain this weekend, as police hunted for a lion on the loose in Essex. The police were called in after there were numerous sightings from locals of what looked like a lion. However, after a fruitless 24-hours, the search was called off due to a lack of any evidence being found.

This bizarre story all started when a holidaymaker reported that he had seen a lion in a field near the Essex coast on Sunday evening. A grainy photo (above) of the animal was shown to experts at the nearby Colchester Zoo, who admitted that there was the possibility it was a lion.

With this ‘confirmation' the police got involved, advising people in the local area to stay indoors. With the news unsurprisingly spreading across Twitter like wildfire, more and more supposed sightings came flooding in and police launched a huge search for the beast. By Monday morning there were 25 officers, a specialist firearm unit and two police helicopters all on the hunt for the Essex Lion. A second picture supposedly taken in the local area also hit the news:

Essex Lion

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Harry and Amelia: The Most Popular Names in Britain

The list of most popular names given to babies born in England and Wales in 2011 has been revealed, with some surprising results. Harry was the most popular name given to boys during the year, whilst Amelia was the most popular girls' name.

The annual list, collected by the Office for National Statistics, reveals the names of every one of the 723,913 babies born in England and Wales last year. There has been a fair bit of movement at the top of the list, with Oliver and Olivia both being knocked off top spot, whilst Jacob, Ava and Isabella are all new in the top 10. Further down the list, Tommy, Blake, Frankie, Elijah and Jackson are all new entries into the top 100 for the boys, with Bella, Willow, Elsie, Kayla, Francesca and Lydia new for the girls.

However, if you're concerned that in 30 years time half the adult population will be called Harry or Amelia, don't worry. The ONS revealed that there were more than 28,000 different boys' names and some 35,000 different girls' names registered in 2011, with the top 10 names accounting for just 14% of babies.

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Floods During a Drought. Only in Britain…

The British are infamous for the amount of time we spend talking about the weather, but if the last month hasn't given us a valid reason to then we don't know what would. It was only a matter of weeks ago that we were bringing you news that parts of Britain were officially in drought, but since then the country has been hit by severe storms and flooding. Whilst all the time remaining ‘in drought'.

The country was officially thrown in to drought on the 5th April, after the driest 18 months since records began. With March temperatures soaring over 20oc, hosepipes were banned as experts predicted the worst drought in the UK for 30 years. However, ever since the drought was announced, Britain has been hit with a pretty much constant downpour of rain.

The Wettest April on Record

As April ended yesterday, vast swathes of the country have been left battered by the weather. Overall, the UK experienced the wettest April since records began in 1910, with some areas receiving a month's worth of rain in a particularly bad 72 hours. There are still 36 flood warnings in place, as well as 150 less serious flood alerts, and the wet weather is expected to continue well into May.

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A Very English Day: St. George and Shakespeare

Today, Monday 23rd April, is a special day for England in more way than one. Not only is it the day of the country's patron saint- St. George, but it also marks William Shakespeare's birthday. With national excitement already growing for the summer's Olympics, there are a number of events happening to commemorate Shakespeare and St. George as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

St George's Day

St. George is the patron saint of a number of different countries, including Russia, Bulgaria, Egypt, India, Greece and Portugal amongst many others. Each year on the 23rd April, they all celebrate St. George's Day. According to tradition, St. George was a Roman soldier in the third century AD. According to legend he killed a dragon to rescue a princess, and in doing so he converted the grateful town's inhabitants to Christians.

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