Britons descended upon the nation’s beaches and beer gardens to enjoy a mini Spring heatwave today as the country gears up for temperatures to climb to 77F by Monday.
Hundreds of visitors took to the nation’s roads and flocked to beaches in Brighton and Bournemouth to enjoy the warm weather while others poured onto the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset as they prepared for a balmy bank holiday weekend.
Meanwhile in Cambridge, crowds of people enjoyed punt tours along the River Cam as a wet and windy month finally came to an end.
An extra 3.6million trips will be taken at some point over the weekend by motorists who have not yet decided on which days they will drive, suggesting the weather will play a major role in deciding traffic congestion levels.
Yesterday, the RAC warned that the bank holiday weekend will see an estimated 10.8million leisure trips taken by car according to its research of drivers’ plans, but the warmth could see even more motorists take to the roads.
The sizzling weather, which follows a May that has been the wettest on record for some areas, could also see the UK welcome the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures in South East England expected to reach 77F (25C) by Monday.
The last time temperatures were that high was on March 31 when 76.1F (24.5C) was recorded in Kew Gardens in London – a figure that also made it the warmest March day in 53 years.
Wet weather has dominated the forecast this month, with Wales recording 200.7mm of rain – double the monthly average – making it the wettest May in records dating back to 1862.
But the positive forecast has now seen throngs of holiday makers racing to the coast in an effort to enjoy the balmy weather.
Met Office meteorologist Sarah Kent told MailOnline: ‘The warmest day of the year so far was back in March when we saw 24.5C so we may have the warmest day of Spring. On Monday we’re quite widely going to see temperatures between 23-24C and 25C in London and central England.
Hundreds of sun-seekers flock to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today as temperatures continue to rise
Visitors enjoy drinks at a beer garden on Brighton beach as the nation gears up for a sunny bank holiday weekend
Crowds are pictured on Bournemouth beach on Saturday afternoon ahead of the bank holiday
Crowds of people sits down at tables and enjoy the sun in Brighton today as forecasters predict a warm week ahead
Sun-seekers sit on deck chairs and soak up the sun rays at the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today as the nation enjoys balmy weather
Students Caitie Gunning, 21, and, Issy Farthing, 20, enjoy a day trip to Bournemouth beach as temperatures continue to soar
A group of people take to the waters on their paddle boards at the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today
People arrive to Freshwater Beach Holiday Park at Burton Bradstock in Dorset today as mercury levels continue to rise
Sunbathers and holidaymakers flock to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today as the mercury levels rise
Groups of people sit down for a drink at Brighton beach today as isolated showers begin to fade and warm weather arrives
The sizzling weather could also see the UK welcome the hottest day of the year so far this, with temperatures in South East England expected to reach 77F (25C) by Monday
‘We are going to see warmth continuing through the week so on Tuesday we could see highs of 26C however as we draw in more of this warmth we will also draw in those heavy showers and thunderstorms on Wednesday and they are likely to spread into south west England first.
‘They will gradually spread north eastwards through the day so the warm weather could go out with a bang but there could be some torrential downpours on Wednesday.’
It comes after the UK got a taste of summer earlier this week as temperatures hit 71.6F (22C) in the Surrey village of Wisley, which was the first time anywhere in the UK had reached at least 68F (20C) since May 9.
According to Met Office figures it has been the 10th wettest May on record with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all recording rainfall above the average amount predicted at this point in May.
Parts of Scotland and northern England even saw snow at the beginning of the month when temperatures reached 22.1F (-5.5C).
About 98 per cent of Highways England roads – motorways and major A-roads – will be free of roadworks to give extra capacity, with 899 carriageway miles of roadworks being completed or suspended ahead of the weekend.
Yesterday, the RAC said drivers have firm plans to take 7.2million trips to see friends and family between Friday and bank holiday Monday – with Saturday and Monday the busiest at 2million separate journeys each day.
The RAC’s Ben Aldous said: ‘With Covid restrictions gradually lifting and some better weather on the horizon at last, we’re anticipating large numbers of drivers to be venturing out and about over the bank holiday weekend.
‘The fact only one-in-10 said they weren’t planning a trip because of the virus, down from a quarter over Easter, shows people now have more confidence to drive to see friends and family safely.
A person relaxes on the pebbles at Brighton beach this morning as the nation enjoys a warm start to the bank holiday weekend
Visitors look through souvenirs as they arrive to a sunny Brighton beach and prepare for a warm weekend ahead
Groups of people tow board on the River Nidd in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, as they enjoy the Spring weather
Visitors flock to Brighton beach today as the nation prepares to bask in temperatures of up to 77F this bank holiday weekend
People arrive to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today as the country enjoys rising temperatures
A person soaks up the sun as hundreds of people flock to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis in Dorset today
Hundreds of sun-seekers flock to Brighton beach today as the nation welcomes a warm start to the weekend
Groups of people enjoy punt tours along the River Cam in Cambridge as a wet and windy month finally comes to an end
Visitors sit on outdoor tables and enjoy the balmy weather at Brighton beach as forecasters predict a warm weekend ahead
Temperatures set to climb to 73.4F (23C) in London today and predicted temperatures of 75.2F (24C) in Manchester and Liverpool on Sunday. Pictured: A group of people enjoy a punt tour along the River Cam
People take their rowing boats onto the River Thames near Putney as the country begins to see temperatures rise
People enjoy punt tours along the River Cam in Cambridge as mercury levels rise across the country
People enjoying the bank holiday weekend sun on Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, after weeks of wind and rain
Groups of people trow their boats along River Thames near Putney as temperatures in the capital continue to climb
People enjoy the hotter weather and go for a ride on a roller-coaster on Weston-super-Mare beach today
People enjoy punt tours along the River Cam in Cambridge as the RAC warns that the bank holiday weekend will see an estimated 10.8million leisure trips taken by car
Surfers take their boards to the sea as they enjoy the bank holiday weekend weather on Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall, this morning
Groups of people row their boats underneath the Knaresborough Viaduct on the River Nidd in North Yorkshire today
A family use a paddle boat at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham as the region welcomes a sunny start to the bank holiday weekend
‘A return to more typical late May temperatures and an end to the recent wind and rain could spark a sudden surge in journeys and mean some routes – especially those to the coasts and hills – start to clog up.’
It comes as Britain yesterday recorded more than 4,000 daily Covid cases for the first time since the start of April, amid mounting fears the rapid spread of the Indian variant will scupper ‘Freedom Day’ next month.
Department of Health bosses posted another 4,182 positive tests, up by almost half on last Friday’s count. It is the most reported in a single day for nearly eight weeks, since the 4,479 on April 1. Almost 75 per cent of all new cases are now the Indian variant.
Ministers always expected cases to increase when restrictions were eased, and they believe vaccines will stop the NHS from being overwhelmed once again.
But No10 has refused to rule out delaying plans to relax lockdown on June 21 and will have to hit the panic button if hospitals start to suffer spiralling admissions, or the mutant strain is found to be much more infectious than the Kent variant, which triggered the devastating second wave.
Traffic begins to build up on the M5 towards Bristol today as hundreds across the country begin their bank holiday weekend
Long queues begin to form on the M5 heading south near Bristol as rising mercury levels send people in search of a staycation
Isolated showers will begin to fade and most areas will see spells of warm sunshine, with temperatures set to climb to 73.4F (23C) in London today
It came as scientists called for No10 to delay the final step on the roadmap back to normality for at least two months, giving the NHS more time to fully vaccinate millions more adults.
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said there was ‘a good argument for caution until such time as we’ve got a much higher proportion of the population double-vaccinated’.
Analysis suggests a single dose of the jab is only around 33 per cent effective at blocking symptoms of Covid in patients infected with the Indian variant, compared to about 50 per cent for the once-dominant Kent strain.