Britain has had the warmest start to a year on record, with temperatures rising above 16C.
A high of 16.2C was recorded in St James’s Park, London, on New Year’s Day. The provisional figure beats the previous record of 15.6C set in Bude, Cornwall, in 1916.
On Friday, temperatures climbed to 15.8C in Merryfield, Somerset, and Nantwich, Cheshire, beating the previous New Year’s Eve record of 14.8C.
A Met Office spokesperson said this made New Year’s Eve “provisionally the warmest on record”.
They said the thermometer continued to rise overnight, eventually reaching 16.5C in Bala, Gwynedd, north Wales.
They added: “Despite this value occurring overnight, we use the 0900-0900 time period for historical records.”
The balmier-than-usual start to the year encouraged people to take part in traditional New Year’s Day swims across the UK, including at New Brighton on the Wirral.
Somerset House in London closed its ice rink because of the higher temperatures.
A spokesperson for the attraction tweeted: “Skate update: Due to the effect of the ongoing warm temperatures on the quality of the ice, we have had to make the difficult decision to also close our ice rink on 1 January.”
Met Office forecaster Dan Stroud urged people to “make the most of the warmth because a change is on the way as we go into the early part of next week”.
Daytime temperatures are expected to plunge to as low as 3C in Edinburgh by Tuesday and 7C in London and Cardiff.
He said: “We are going to be losing the sub-tropical air flow and replacing it with some things from the north.
“Temperatures will definitely go back to average, with a return of frost and some snow in the forecast across north areas and across the hills.”
The warm start to the new year follows a mild December.
Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said the average temperature in December and the beginning of January was usually about 7C-8C, but the warmer weather was due to a southwesterly wind making its way across the country.
Higher temperatures are usually localised, but plenty of places experienced highs of 15C last month, he said.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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