London warmer than Rome as Britain feels the heat

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May blossom heralded Britain's warmest day of the year yesterday with temperatures in London much higher than the average for the time of the year. The Met Office said temperatures were about 19C (66F) in areas of London and the Home Counties. Gardeners and horticulturists noticed early blooms brought on by the warmer weather.

One of the highest temperatures was recorded at Northolt, west London, at 19.5C (67F) compared with an average early April temperature of about 12C (54F). The warmth of London compared favourably yesterday with Barcelona at 13C (55F) and a misty Rome where the temperatures barely rose above freezing.

The warm weather was reflected across the country with most areas warmer than usual, except for some parts of the east coast.

A forecaster at the Met Office said a lack of northerly winds was the reason for the warmer weather. Forecasters warned that after a warm and dry Thursday and Friday, the colder weather was expected to return by this weekend. "This week is going to change decidedly for the colder. Don't put away your winter coat yet," he said.

Despite the prolonged period of relatively warm weather, no records have been broken. Temperatures of more than 20C have previously been recorded in mid-March.