Britain to bask in weekend warmth

Almost all of Britain will bask in glorious sunshine this weekend with the mini-heatwave showing no sign of fizzling out.

Forecasters predict the recent warm weather in London and the South will extend across the whole of the UK today, bringing with it balmy highs of 20 degrees C (68F).

The Spring sun is then expected to last right through into Sunday with temperatures peaking at a higher-than-average 21 degrees C (70F).

Brendan Jones, forecaster at MeteoGroup UK, the Press Association's weather division, said: "On Saturday just about the whole of the country is going to have a good day with lots of sunshine and a light wind.

"All in all it will be pretty warm almost everywhere with temperatures in the high teens and getting towards 20 degrees."

The forecast for the weekend is so good that the RSPCA has issued a warning to pet owners reminding them of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, conservatories or caravans.

The charity said: "All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences. The RSPCA's message is: 'Dogs die in hot cars. Don't leave your dog alone in a car'."

The RSPCA said that outside temperatures of 22 degrees C (71.6F) - such as those recorded in parts of southern England today - could result in the temperature inside a vehicle soaring to 47 degrees C (116.6F) within an hour.

London and the Home Counties have have basked in warm sunshine for the past two days, with mid afternoon temperatures reaching 22 degrees C (71.6F) in Gatwick, West Sussex, and Charlwood, Surrey yesterday.

This equalled the highest recorded April 7 of 22 degrees C (71.6F) - recorded in Achnashellach, in the Highlands of Scotland, in 1974.

The north saw less of the balmy temperatures yesterday with cloud stretching across Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia.

However, a large area of high pressure is expected to move in today, covering virtually all of the UK and bringing with it a fine day with spells of sunshine, experts say.

Temperatures of 17-18 (62.6-64.4F) degrees C should be fairly widespread with 19-20 degrees C in the south.

Some coastal areas around the south west of England, Wales and the Merseyside area could have a cooler start with some low cloud and sea fog possible in the morning. This should give way to sunshine and temperatures of 16-17 (60.8-62.6F) degrees C at Aintree.

On Sunday a band of cloud is expected to move in form the West over parts of Wales, Scotland and North West England.

"There could be a few pockets of rain but eastern areas are going to remain sunny and warm," added Mr Jones.

The warm weather is expected to become more unsettled towards the middle of next week.