Britain resorts to coast as temperatures soar

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The Independent Online

It has been a long wait for cricket fans and sunseekers alike. England are showing the West Indies how to win and, a mere two months late, summer has arrived. Today is set to be one of the hottest so far.

It has been a long wait for cricket fans and sunseekers alike. England are showing the West Indies how to win and, a mere two months late, summer has arrived. Today is set to be one of the hottest so far.

The good news for sunseekers, though, was bad news for motorists. Thousands spent yesterday stuck in traffic jams, with the AA reporting major problems on routes to the coast.

Temperatures reached 29C (84F) in central London and, with thunder storms expected next week, many people decided to head for beaches and parks.

Traffic was heavy in the South-east as people made for resorts including Brighton, Margate and Eastbourne. Hoteliers and traders said that the good weather may have come just in time to save what they feared would be a poor summer after weeks of cloud and rain.

Traders on Brighton beach, for example, said they were delighted that July was closing with a weekend of hot sunshine.

"This weather has saved our lives, it was getting a bit desperate. It is very busy and people are having a great time," said Peter Avey, who runs a café and restaurant next to the town's main pier.

Much of Britain started the day under cloud cover, with heavy bursts of rain in the north before the Azores high - an area of high pressure over the Atlantic - took effect.

Forecasters predicted temperatures could rise as high as 29C in London, with the fine weather - and uncomfortable nights - lasting until Tuesday.

The high temperatures have led the Government to publish new survival advice for vulnerable people after last year's August heatwave claimed more than 2,000 "excessive" deaths.

Bookkeepers yesterday slashed the odds on temperatures breaking the 100F (37.8C) barrier to 5-1, while the organisers of sporting events including the Edgbaston Test, the Women's British Open golf tournament at Sunningdale and the final day of racing at Goodwood predicted sell-out crowds.

The hot weather will not be welcomed by more than 8,000 participants in today's London triathalon in Docklands, who will swim 1,500m, cycle 40km and then run 10km.

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