Balmy Britain is warmer than Athens and Barcelona

 

Unseasonably mild weather dashed hopes of a White Christmas yesterday.

Temperatures of between 11C and 14C were reported across the UK – higher than in Athens (10C) and Barcelona (12C), and almost as warm as Cairo (16C). The record UK temperature for 25 December is 15.6C – set in 1896 and again in 1920.

Despite yesterday's mild weather, winds gusting at up to 85mph battered the Shetland Islands and northern Scotland.

Meanwhile, about 100 people defied safety warnings to take part in a yuletide tradition by plunging into the sea.

Brighton Swimming Club had announced that its annual Christmas Day swim was cancelled because of high tides and strong winds, but crowds flocked to the beach regardless and at 11am about 100 people dashed into the choppy water.

Alongside the Christmas hats were several swimmers in superhero costumes, one dressed as a Christmas tree and a man in a green "mankini". One swimmer had to be rescued from the treacherous tides and was dragged to safety by other revellers. Similar Christmas Day dips were held at Exmouth, Dublin, and Porthcawl in South Wales. In London, the Serpentine Swimming Club of Hyde Park held its annual Christmas Day Peter Pan Cup Race.

Football fans can look forward to today's matches without the usual chill, according to weather experts. But Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, warned: "After Boxing Day temperatures will slowly start to fall back, returning to closer to what we'd expect at this time of year."

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