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UK set for milder 53F today as parks brace for an onslaught of visitors at start of Easter break

Boris Johnson has warned Britons they must not meet indoors or stay overnight this Easter as millions prepare to see family and friends over the four-day weekend.

The Prime Minister addressed the issue in a Q&A session with social media users on Twitter this morning after he was asked whether two people having received the jab would allow indoor gatherings.

He said: ‘I’m afraid the answer is no, because we’re not yet at this stage. We’re very much in a world where you can meet friends and family outdoors under the rule of six or two households. 

‘And even though friends and family members may be vaccinated, the vaccines are not giving 100 per cent protection and that’s why we just need to be cautious. We don’t think they entirely reduce or remove the risk of transmission.’

It comes as parks, beaches and beauty spots across the UK are bracing themselves for another onslaught of visitors, despite police appealing for calm at the start of the four-day Easter break.

Britain is set for mild temperatures of around 53F (12C) today and tomorrow, as many will be looking to take advantage of the relaxing of Covid restrictions earlier this week.

Monday saw gatherings of up to six people allowed outside, including in parks or gardens, for the first time in months.

And lockdown-weary Britons certainly made the most of the rule change, with thousands flocking to enjoy the sunshine during a mini-heatwave.

Police will be hoping there is no repeat of some of the scenes witnessed this week, however, after drunk revellers clashed with officers in Cardiff, 100 youths ran riot in Liverpool and a brawl erupted in London’s Primrose Hill after a knifeman charged at crowds.

While temperatures are not expected to hit the heights of 75F (24C) seen on Tuesday, clear skies and outbreaks of sunshine are likely to draw crowds to outdoor beauty spots, while many families will be looking to meet in gardens over Easter, having missed out on seeing loved ones at Christmas.

The Metropolitan Police has called for calm ahead of the long weekend, insisting officers ‘make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which pose a serious risk to public health’.

It comes as the Met Office warns that, despite the almost record-setting March conditions earlier this week, temperatures would decline steadily and by Monday would struggle to reach double digits, with snow warnings even forecast in some areas.

The long weekend follows another hectic few days in which: 

  • Boris Johnson has faced a backlash over his vaccine passport plan, with MPs vowing to vote against the idea;
  • Industry bosses have warned 60% of pubs will not welcome back customers on April 12 as they won’t have enough space;
  • A public health expert insists Britain won’t suffer a devastating third wave because so many have been vaccinated and warmer weather is coming;
  • A chief constable argued the ‘Stay Local’ advice is too ‘vague’, with police telling people to report rule-breakers; 

Boris Johnson warned Britons they must not meet indoors or stay overnight this Easter in a Q&A session on Twitter today

Boris Johnson warned Britons they must not meet indoors or stay overnight this Easter in a Q&A session on Twitter today

A man enjoys a dip in the sea at the beach in Poole, Dorset, this morning at the start of the extended Easter weekend

A man enjoys a dip in the sea at the beach in Poole, Dorset, this morning at the start of the extended Easter weekend

Shoppers in Southampton stocked up on essentials, with many families likely to meet in gardens for the first time in months this weekend

Shoppers in Southampton stocked up on essentials, with many families likely to meet in gardens for the first time in months this weekend

People out for a morning jog on London's south bank this morning at the start of the four-day Easter weekend

People out for a morning jog on London’s south bank this morning at the start of the four-day Easter weekend

A passer-by walks on Bamburgh Castle beach during sunrise in Northumberland this morning

A passer-by walks on Bamburgh Castle beach during sunrise in Northumberland this morning

People walk across the Millennium Bridge in London this morning, with St Paul's seen in the background, at the start of the long weekend

People walk across the Millennium Bridge in London this morning, with St Paul’s seen in the background, at the start of the long weekend

The sun rises behind the Blackpool Tower in Blackpool, Lancashire this morning at the start of the long Easter weekend

The sun rises behind the Blackpool Tower in Blackpool, Lancashire this morning at the start of the long Easter weekend

Rare conditions that bring thunderstorms and snow 

Thunder and lightning are more usually associated with warmer climates but under certain conditions they can occur in cold ones too. 

Thundersnow starts out like a summer thunderstorm – the sun heats the ground and pushes masses of warm, moist air upward, creating unstable air columns. 

As it rises, the moisture condenses to form clouds, which are jostled by internal turbulence. Lightning is caused by this rubbing of the clouds against each other – thunder is the sound of lightning but as sound moves more slowly than light we hear it later. 

The tricky part for thundersnow is creating that atmospheric instability in the winter. When it is cold, and particularly in air conducive to snowfall, the lower atmosphere is dry, cold and very stable. 

For thundersnow to occur there needs to be a precise set of circumstances – the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow.

When this happens warm air rises, snow falls and thunder, lightning and snow all occur at the same time.

Parts of the UK saw temperatures reach nearly 75.2F (24C) on Wednesday, with Weybourne, north Norfolk, leading the way at a peak of 75F (23.9C).

But the figure fell just shy of the nation’s hottest ever March temperature of 78F (25.6C), which was recorded in 1968 at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.

The Met Office said the ‘marked change’ in temperature was due to the country entering an ‘Arctic trough’ and colder conditions were expected to last through next week.

According to Sky News, it is possible that Britain could see a rare ‘thunderstorm’ which sees stormy weather combined with wintry showers.

The storm could see lightning appear brighter as the light reflects off falling snowflakes, while the sound of the thunder can be quieter.  

For thundersnow to occur there needs to be a precise set of circumstances – the air layer closer to the ground has to be warmer than the layers above, but still cold enough to create snow.

Yesterday Ladbrokes cut its odds of snowfall on Easter. The bookies now make it just 5/4 that snow falls anywhere in the UK on Sunday with temperatures set to take another dip.

Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘The odds are tumbling with the temperatures and while it once looked like this Easter might be a scorcher, it could well be quite the opposite on the weather front with snow on the way over the coming days.’ 

Nicola Maxey, spokeswoman for the Met Office, said: ‘There are some blustery winds around, particularly along the east coast, as we go through the weekend.

‘It’s a marked change from what we saw on Wednesday and by the end of Friday we’re really all in this cold air – we’re in an Arctic trough.’

Ms Maxey said that parts of the south would hang on to warmer temperatures for the longest but that by early next week the entire country would be in single figures.

Sunny skies are still expected across large parts of the country today, with highs of 57F (14C) in the south east and London.

Tomorrow, temperatures in the south east and London are expected to be about 53.6F (12C) and, further north, Manchester and Leeds could see highs of 55.4F (13C) and 50F (10C) respectively.

But, by Monday, London may drop to 46.4F (8C), Manchester 44.6F (7C) and Leeds a chilly 41F (5C).

The Met Office said the warmer temperatures were more unusual than the cold temperatures for the end of March.

‘But it’s the colder temperatures that people will remember and note,’ said Ms Maxey. 

‘It’s not unusual to see these big swings in Spring – it’s a transition period between winter and summer.

‘The cold will be with us for much of next week, and with any showers you could see the possibility of snow falling over high ground in northern areas – the Pennines, Cumbria, Scotland.’

Gatherings of up to six people allowed outside, including in parks or gardens, have been allowed for the first time in months since Monday

Gatherings of up to six people allowed outside, including in parks or gardens, have been allowed for the first time in months since Monday

People out jogging on London's Bankside near the Tate Modern this morning, with mild temperatures forecast for today

People out jogging on London’s Bankside near the Tate Modern this morning, with mild temperatures forecast for today

While temperatures are not expected to hit the heights of 75F (24C) seen on Tuesday, clear skies and outbreaks of sunshine are likely to draw crowds to outdoor beauty spots

While temperatures are not expected to hit the heights of 75F (24C) seen on Tuesday, clear skies and outbreaks of sunshine are likely to draw crowds to outdoor beauty spots

While groups of six, or two households, are allowed to meet outside, the Metropolitan Police said larger gatherings, including house parties and illegal raves, will be shut down.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors said: ‘We cannot allow the selfish actions of a small minority of people to jeopardise the efforts of this city.

‘We will continue to shut down house parties or dangerous raves quickly, taking enforcement action by handing out fines.

‘We make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which pose a serious risk to public health.’ 

The Met is expecting more protests in the capital over the weekend, which are now lawful providing organisers submit a risk assessment and take steps to ensure the gathering is safe.

But the force said: ‘Enforcement action will be taken, if needed, in the interests of public health.’

Among the planned demonstrations is a Kill the Bill rally against the Government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill due to take place in Finsbury Park on Friday afternoon, with similar events planned elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police sought to avoid a repeat of scenes played out across the country this week by introducing a 48-hour dispersal order for the city centre, to last until 3pm on Saturday.

It means officers can direct anyone acting anti-socially to leave the area.


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