UK 'hotter than Africa' as mercury hits 28C


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The Independent Online

The unseasonably fine weather sent temperatures soaring again today, making the UK hotter than parts of Europe and Africa.

The mercury rocketed to 28C (82.4F) in Bournemouth, making it the hottest day of the year and putting Barcelona in the shade as the Spanish city could only manage 25.3C (77.5F).

The warm weather is set to continue over the weekend, with temperatures only falling significantly in the middle of next week, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

Train companies are gearing up for an increase in passengers of up to 25% in some parts of the country this weekend as hundreds of thousands of sun-seekers head to seaside resorts and beauty spots.

Kinlochewe in north-west Scotland peaked at 27.7C (81.9F) today and at Heathrow Airport, west London, temperatures reached 25.7C (78.3F).

In comparison, Athens in Greece reached 24C (75.2F) while Casablanca in Morocco could only manage 22C (71.6), though Europe is also experiencing above-average temperatures.

Easterly winds from the continent and a high pressure system over the Northern Isles have caused temperatures to reach almost 10C higher than the average for this time of year. The May average for London is 17C (62.6F), and 20.4C (68.7F) in June.

Average maximum temperatures for England in May are 14C to 17C (57.2F to 62.6F), while Scotland would normally be 13C to 15C (55.4F to 59F).

Forecaster Sally Webb said: "Most places are still warm and hot, with temperatures over the seasonal average.

"On the North Sea coast it is a bit cooler. Parts of Yorkshire have struggled to reach 16C (60.8F) and Boulmer in Northumberland has only reached 14.8C (58.6F) today.

"Most of the UK will be sunny and very warm on Saturday, but showers could reach the end of Cornwall by late afternoon.

"Sunday will continue to be dry and sunny, although there is a chance of it being cloudier. There might also be showers in the South West in areas like Devon and South Wales."

It is going to stay warm for the next few days, with temperatures of 27C (80.6) in Scotland tomorrow and 24C (75.2F) or 25C (77F) in southern England, and 24C (75.2F) or 25C (77F) across the UK on Sunday.

It will start to cool off next week. Monday will see a high of 25C (77F) and Tuesday 23C (73.4F), before falling to about 20C (68F) or 21C (69.8F) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thousands of people are expected to head to the coast this weekend to make the most of the weather.

Edward Welsh, from the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said: "We are expecting thousands of families and sun-worshippers to pack their buckets and spades, straw hats and sunglasses, and catch the train to seaside resorts.

"For those planning to make the most of the first warm weekend of the summer there are plenty of cheap deals, and many people can get a third off the cost of their journey with a railcard.

"There's no need to get hot and bothered behind the wheel of a car when you can catch the train."

In its latest briefing on the drought, which is still affecting much of south east and eastern England, the Environment Agency said this week had been the driest since the end of March.

Just 2mm (0.08 inches) of rain or less fell in south east England, while 9mm (0.35 inches) was recorded in the North East and North West.

River flows have decreased from high levels seen during weeks of rain and are now normal for the time of year, while the warm sunny weather following the rain has prompted lots of plant growth, which has meant soils are drier than normal.

A number of monitored groundwater supplies have returned to normal or higher levels but eight sites remain "exceptionally low" for this time of year.

National drought co-ordinator Polly Chancellor said: "The recent spell of wet weather restored many river and reservoir levels to normal, reducing pressure on the environment and public water supply.

"But groundwater levels in some areas still remain exceptionally low - so it continues to be important that we all use water wisely and try to reduce the amount that we use at home and in businesses."