With beaches packed, barbecue sales soaring and warnings of traffic jams on the roads, Britons look set to enjoy summer's last hurrah in style this weekend – even if it is officially autumn.
Today is anticipated to be the hottest October day ever as temperatures are expected to creep above the record set in 1985 when the mercury peaked at 29.4 degrees. It comes after a week in which most of Britain has basked in unseasonably warm weather, with the expectation of a sun-drenched weekend for once proving a glorious reality.
Yesterday Cambridge was the hottest place in the UK at 29.2C – making it warmer than the Mediterranean and even further-flung hot spots such as Honolulu and Barbados. But while hopes of an enduring summer may be high, forecasters warned that we should enjoy the weather while it lasts.
Temperatures have already started to slump back to normal in Scotland and Northern Ireland with the north of England likely to follow suit on Monday. London and the South East, however, might cling on to the last of the cloudless skies until Wednesday at the latest, according to the Met Office.
In the meantime people were making the most of the unusual conditions which have seen temperatures 10C above normal, fooling plants into spring blooming nearly six months early.
Hotels.com reported a 983 per cent rise in searches for British seaside destinations. The most popular resort was Broadstairs in Kent, with a 275 per cent increase in hotel searches compared with last year. Destinations such as Salcombe in Devon, Skegness in Lincolnshire and Southend-on-Sea in Essex were also scoring highly online.
Travel organisations were warning the sunshine would lead to hold-ups on major routes. Because of the unexpected nature of the heatwave, the authorities would not have time to scale back roadworks as they do during the summer months.
The record temperatures are the result of an area of high pressure off the east coast of the UK, which has created near-cloudless conditions. Records have already been set for the hottest 29 September (warmest since 1895) and 30 September. The warmest October day so far was recorded in March, Cambridgeshire in 1985.
Tesco said it expects to sell 3.5 million sausages and 550,000 burgers.