It’s hard to imagine that just a fortnight ago, snow and ice had much of Britain trapped in a mid-winter big freeze.
But that was all forgotten today as people headed to the seaside for a romantic day out, with milder air originating from the Azores leaving the country basking in unseasonably mild highs of 15C (59F) on Valentine’s Day.
Some Britons jumped in the water in Bournemouth, while others enjoyed sitting in the sunshine in Portsmouth – only hours after a very misty start led the Met Office to issue a weather warning for fog in southern England.
Students Ana Clark, 22, Karolina Krzyzanska, 21, and Mitoshka Alkova, 21, enjoy the sunshine at Bournemouth in Dorset today
Two men make the most of the warm weather on the beach this afternoon at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire
A woman goes for a run in the sea at Brighton in East Sussex today as the country enjoys unseasonably mild conditions
Couples enjoy a romantic stroll on the beach today as warm Valentine’s Day weather bathes Bournemouth in sunshine
A man rests on a wall as he enjoys the sunshine and warm conditions on the pebbled beach at Brighton today
Sunshine and blue sky make the Dorset resort of West Bay look spring-like today as temperatures rise across the country
A man runs in the sunshine along the promenade in Brighton today in front of a series of colourful beach huts
A man walks his dog in the frost and fog of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire this morning, which later cleared for a sunny day
Temperatures will stay well above average for the time of year over the coming days, with forecasters expecting an almost summer-like peak of up to 16C (61F) in the North East of Scotland and 13C (55F) in northern England.
Ther mercury in London is likely to reach 15C (59F) tomorrow – with a fortnight still to go until meteorological spring. And although some snow could return briefly next month, the milder conditions should stay for a while.
Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said daytime maximum temperatures in England would normally be around 7C (45F) or 8C (46F) this time of year.
‘At the moment we can expect to see temperatures reach well into double figures across the UK,’ he said. The warmer conditions are due to a high pressure system moving up from South West Europe.
Today and tomorrow should bring the highest temperatures, said Mr Madge. Northern England, the Peak District and coastal Yorkshire are expected to see the warmest weather, apart from North-East Scotland.
Clear skies reign this afternoon across most of Britain (left) but it will be cold again around sunrise tomorrow (right)
Above average temperatures are expected for all of Britain this weekend, with many places enjoying 11C or 12C around 4pm
The warmest Valentine’s Day on record was in 1998, where temperatures hit 19.5C (67.1F) in Cambridge, not far off the February record temperature of 19.7C (67.46F) set in the same year at Greenwich in South East London.
If the mercury gets above 15.2C (59.4F) today, it will be the warmest February 14 in 21 years. The top temperature recorded as of 2pm this afternoon was 15C (59F) at Aberystwyth in West Wales.
Last year, there was also a very mild spell around the middle of the month, with 14.2C (57.6F) recorded on February 19 in Cardiff, but days later the Beast from the East brought freezing conditions and heavy snowfall.
The Met Office long-range forecast predicts during the first two weeks of March there is the ‘potential for some snow’ although ‘overall temperatures are likely to be near or slightly above average’.
Mr Madge added: ‘There isn’t any strong signal for an extended cold spell at all. The high pressure looks as if it will remain in charge for most of February if not all of the month and so average or warmer than average conditions are likely to prevail.’