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Storm warnings fail to turn bank holiday getaway into damp squib

Forecasters are predicting a mixture of sunshine and showers

Millions of holidaymakers will be looking tentatively to the skies this bank holiday weekend with unpredictable weather forecast across the country.

Experts have warned of a stormy start to the annual Great British getaway, with torrential rain and thundery showers hitting the east and raising fears of flooding. Monday looks likely to be the best day, with spells of sunshine and the mercury pooling between 20C and 25C.

Cornwall, Wales and Lancashire will enjoy the hottest, driest conditions, leading experts to predict an east-to-west divide.

Matt Dobson, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: “It’s really an  east-west split in the weather, where west is definitely best.

“In England, Wales and Scotland there will be sunny spells and generally dry weather in western areas, whereas in eastern areas it will be cloudy with outbreaks of rain.

“It’s not looking brilliant for the South-east on Sunday,” Mr Dobson added. “It’s going to be wet and cloudy, with a north-easterly wind [and] further showers or heavier spells of rain.”

Despite the threat of rain, the economy is expected to receive a massive £1bn boost with an estimated 16 million drivers taking to roads, 40 per cent of whom will be heading to the coast or the seaside. The Highways Agency has announced it is lifting roadworks on 98 per cent of the country’s busiest routes in a bid to keep traffic flowing.

Around 328 miles of roadworks have been completed in time for the  three-day weekend, and 151 miles of lane closures will be reopened.

Train companies are gearing up for a 30 per cent increase in passenger journeys, while VisitEngland predicts 4.5 million people will make an overnight trip in the UK. Top destinations include the Lake District for camping and the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The travel association Abta estimates that 1.8 million British holidaymakers will head overseas this weekend, with more than half a million passengers departing from Heathrow alone.

In the capital, Notting Hill Carnival organisers are hoping a downpour doesn’t put a dampener on the two-day event, which kicks off on Sunday.

Thousands have already poured in through the gates of the Reading Festival to enjoy the music there.

And Marks & Spencer is predicting a 50 per cent increase in ice-cream sales, compared to the 200 per cent lolly sale boost it had last week.