Britain leaves Mediterranean in shade

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Temperatures hit 86F (30C) yesterday, as Britain enjoyed its hottest June day since 1996.

Temperatures hit 86F (30C) yesterday, as Britain enjoyed its hottest June day since 1996.

As the bookmaker William Hill cut its odds of the UK hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit this summer from 25/1 to 20/1, forecasters said that the hot weather would continue today and tomorrow, with temperatures due to reach 86F again.

Yesterday's heatwave made Britain hotter than popular holiday destinations, as temperatures peaked at 79F (26C) in Araxos, Greece and 81F (27C) in Pisa, northern Italy. At one point yesterday forecasters predicted temperatures would reach 90F (32C) but by 3pm they had settled at 86F.

The sunshine was spread throughout England and Wales - Scotland reached only 72F (22C) - and brought thousands out to the coast. A spokeswoman for the Brighton and Hove seafront office said: "Everything has been full down here today. The beach is jam-packed; you can't see a pebble between people." Similar scenes were reported in Blackpool.

The hot weather coincided with the annual London to Brighton bike ride and the 27,000 cyclists added to traffic congestion around the south coast. AA Roadwatch said there were problems on the A23 to Brighton, traffic in Exeter was gridlocked and there were "substantial queues" in Southend. A spokesman said: "Routes in the South-east have been very busy today."

The heatwave came as scientists said the weather in northern Europe was likely to get colder, not hotter over the rest of the century. University of East Anglia and British Antarctic Survey research into the circulation of ocean waters suggests that the Gulf Stream, which now warms our waters, may end in the next 100 years.