March 26, 2012

Britain on the hottest day as temperatures hit 22C (10 PICS)

Feeling the heat: A sunbather relaxes in a red bikini on Brighton Beach with the burned out shell of the pier in the background

Sizzling Britain was warmer than California yesterday as the country basked in the hottest day of the year.

Temperatures hit 71F (21.7C) in some areas – up to 20F above the seasonal average – and the good news is the fine weather is set to continue this week.

Met Office forecaster Rebecca  Sherwin said: ‘The hottest place  yesterday was Porthmadog in North Wales at 71F (21.7C).

This only just exceeded the South and Central England, which experienced temperatures significantly above average. California was only 15C yesterday.’

Sunbathers headed to the beaches, with Brighton, Bournemouth and Langland Bay, near Swansea, packed by mid-afternoon, while others took to the River Cam in Cambridge for the year’s first punt.

But it wasn’t all fun in the sun – temperatures in Yorkshire barely managed to reach double figures, not helped  by the fact there were fog patches in some areas.

This is the life: A student makes the most of the sunshine by putting up her feet and reading a book in one of the river boats
The highest temperature today is predicted to be 68F (20C) in Aberdeenshire. It will be slightly cooler in southern England, but still around 65F (18C).

Forecaster Paul Mott said: ‘It’s looking fine and warm for much of the  coming week. It will last until at least Thursday or Friday.’

The warm weather is being caused by a high pressure system in the North Sea sucking up air from northern  Europe.

For the next few days, London is expected to be warmer than Madrid, Rome and even Athens.

Although the temperatures are unseasonal, they won’t make the record books. The hottest March day was 78F (25.6C) recorded at Mepal in Cambridgeshire in 1968.

Taking a punt: Visitors enjoy the view of the River Cam in Cambridge in one of the traditional boats
The Woodland Trust has asked people to look out for the first bluebells of the year as it tracks wildflowers blooming across the UK.

The charity said more than 50 sightings have been reported so far – almost twice as many as this time last year.

But the continued hot weather raises more fears of a serious drought this summer – with strict hosepipe bans set to be in place  in many areas from April 5.

The Environment Agency says it  has been the driest March since records began.

A spokesman said: ‘We’re working with farmers to keep them going through the summer. However, it’s been a very dry week and river  levels are continuing to fall.

Cooling off: Ms Hammett splashes in the sea as Britain basks in the hottest day of the year… and the warm weather is set to continue
‘Obviously, it’s nice to have a sunny weekend but what we really need is a prolonged period of rainfall.’

He may have just lost his job at the Royal Bank of Scotland but Peter Phillips was all smiles in the sunshine yesterday.

The Queen’s grandson was enjoying himself with his wife Autumn and their 15-month-old daughter Savannah at the Gatcombe Horse Trials in Gloucestershire.

Enjoying the sun: Savannah goes for a stroll, then tucks into a tasty ice cream cone

Easy does it: Members of the public punt around Magdalen College School playing fields in Cambridge during the warm spring weather yesterday
Peter, 34, who jointly organised the trials at the country home of his mother, Princess Anne, became a high-profile victim of the massive jobs cull at the bank after handing in his notice as head of global sponsorship. He had worked at the company for seven years.

But the casually dressed Royal looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world yesterday as he swung Savannah playfully through the air before cradling her gently in one arm.

Peter’s 33-year-old Canadian wife, dressed in a baggy white top and black trousers, restrained herself from such games as she is expecting the couple’s second child this month.

As for Savannah, the one thing she could bank on was getting  an ice cream – but whether her pink gingham outfit escaped unscathed was not guaranteed.

Crowds of people flock to Brighton Beach as the sun shines in Sussex yesterday. The good news is that the weather will only be getting warmer now
Pull: Rowers cut through the early morning mist yesterday before it was lifted by the sizzling sun
Hotter than California: Britain saw temperatures of 21.7C but it wasn’t so warm up north
In dad’s arms: Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly with their first child Savannah, the Queen’s first great-grandchild, as she enjoys the ice cream
Stretching out: Personal trainer Tara Hammett makes the most of the warm weather at Langland Bay, near Swansea, south Wales yesterday

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