Britain could see near-record breaking temperatures for March next week as the mercury gets up to a sweltering 75F (24C) after the outdoor rule of six returns – but not before a brief cold snap begins tonight.
The hottest weather is expected in South East England next Tuesday with the highs closing in on the all-time UK record temperature for the month, which was 78.1F (25.6C) on March 29, 1968 in Mepal, Cambridgeshire.
Next Monday is also expected to be warm with highs of 66F (19C) expected on the day that England’s third coronavirus lockdown is partially eased, with people allowed to gather outside in groups of six again.
The upbeat forecast means next week is almost certain to bring the warmest day of 2021 so far, beating the current UK high of 66.2F (19C) which was set in Edinburgh just over a week ago on March 18.
The mercury is set to stay above average for the time of year until at least Wednesday, with signs that it may then fall slightly with forecasters adding that there are ‘some hints that it might just turn a little bit colder’ for Easter.
However the Met Office also said chilly air is sweeping in today behind an active weather front bringing strong winds and heavy rain, turning wintry tonight with the ‘potential for some sleet and hail just about anywhere’.
Snow is possible over hillier parts of the country including Exmoor, Dartmoor, the Pennines and Scotland with up to 4in (10cm) expected in the western Highlands, while the start of tomorrow could also bring a widespread frost.
A woman walks her dog beside the daffodils around the base of Warkworth Castle in Northumberland this afternoon
People are caught in a sudden downpour of heavy rain as they cross the Millennium Bridge in London today
A pedestrian covers their head with a newspaper in the wind and rain at Parliament Square in London today
A woman holds onto her umbrella as people are caught in a downpour as they cross Millennium Bridge in London today
A man struggles with an umbrella in the wind and rain in London today ahead of a cold snap at the start of the weekend
Met Office chief meteorologist Andy Page said: “From Saturday we are going to see a change in weather across the UK, with the northern and southern parts of Britain experiencing quite marked differences.
‘The northern half of Britain will see strong winds and heavy rain, especially in parts of Western Scotland where a yellow warning for rain will be in force for 48 hours from 6pm on Sunday evening.
A band of heavy rain is sweeping across the country today
‘However, in sheltered central and southern parts of the UK, weather conditions will be much calmer with temperatures climbing in the March sunshine to highs into the low 20Cs, with the possibility of 24C (75F) in South East England by Tuesday.’
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: ‘A taste of winter as we begin this weekend, but it really is the snappiest of cold snaps, because it doesn’t last long before milder air rushes in from the West.’
He said this will bring heavy rain for some places but ‘very little rain for other places’, adding that the cold air will sweep across on Friday ‘behind an active weather front which will bring some heavy rain and strong winds’.
Mr McGivern added: ‘Behind this we’ve got an awful lot of showers, some very lively downpours arriving from the West and North West during Friday, and they turn increasingly wintry on Friday night as temperatures fall away.
‘There’s the potential for some sleet and hail just about anywhere, and a dusting of snow, I wouldn’t be surprised, over any hillier parts of England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.’
Temperatures will get up to 12C (54F) tomorrow and could reach 15C (59F) on Sunday before rising further into next week
Forecasters MetDesk revealed this temperature map for next Tuesday showing highs well above 70F (21C) in the South
He said the most significant snow accumulations will be over the Pennines and Scotland, above 1,000ft (300m) where 2in (5cm) is expected, and for the West Highlands above that area about 4in (10cm) in places.
He continued: ‘A cold start on Saturday, a widespread frost, watch out for those icy stretches where we’ve had the showers coming through overnight, but some bright weather around, some sunshine.
‘Actually the showers don’t last long, they quickly fade away through Saturday morning, remaining there for a time in Northern England, but otherwise it’s largely going to be increasingly dry and bright with plenty of sunny spells breaking out across eastern parts of the UK.
‘Still some thicker cloud further West, increasingly thick through Saturday afternoon, a few showers of rain for South West England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it stays dry and bright in the East.’
Sunrise above the Port Of London Authority’s Royal Terrace Pier on the River Thames near the Kent town of Gravesend today
Thickening cloud from the west drifts in as this morning’s sun rises above the Ro-Ro Cargo ship Meleq near Gravesend today
He said that after the chilly start, temperatures will recover slightly and be back to 9C (48F) to 12C (54F) which is around average for the time of year.
Six in ten Britons ‘don’t know whether clocks go forward or back’ this Sunday
Six in ten Britons are unsure whether the clocks go forward or back this Sunday, a poll has found.
Around three-quarters experience body clock confusion due to the national clock change, while a similar number told how they had previously woken up suspicious of their digital devices automatically updating.
Four in ten said they often needed to check the time with friends or family just to be sure about the change.
The study of 2,000 British adults, commissioned by Meantime Brewing to launch its new Spring Forward pale ale, also found about half of people do not know the history or meaning behind daylight saving hours.
The clocks go forward this weekend, from 1am to 2am on Sunday, entering what is known as British Summer Time (BST) or Daylight Saving Time (DST). The change began in 1916 as a way of saving electricity during the First World War by adding an extra hour of light to the day.
Mr McGivern said: ‘Winds easing for a time, but as this weather comes in, the winds increase, the isobars pack together, weather fronts pushing in quickly.
‘These weather fronts contain much milder air but they contain an awful lot of rainfall as well, so some heavy rain pushing into north-western parts of the UK during Saturday night and that then toppling its way southwards.
‘After a wet start for Scotland and Northern Ireland it turns a bit drier and brighter with showers following. But the rain is going to stall across parts of North West England into wales, the South West as well.
‘It’s going to be generally on and off in lower parts of the country, but over the higher parts of North West England, Wales, Dartmoor and Exmoor, it could well be a wet day throughout Sunday.’
He continued: ‘Further South East the rain doesn’t reach here, some bright weather and temperatures on the rise – we’re looking at 14C (57F), 15C (59F), perhaps higher if we get some cloud breaks.
‘This wind coming in from the South West (is) a big change compared to how we start the weekend. And there’ll be some brightness in the east of Scotland away from the showers further west.
‘But the rain perhaps relentless through North West England as well as parts of Wales, especially over the hills, and there is a real risk that it will continue to mount up through Monday and the start of Tuesday.’
Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin added that the next ten days ‘could be, certainly in terms of temperature, a bit of a rollercoaster ride’, adding that there are ‘some hints that it might just turn a little bit colder’ for Easter.
And a spokesman for forecasters MetDesk tweeted: ‘Temperatures sneaking into the 20s on Tuesday? Increasing confidence of some warm weather in the South midweek. But don’t bank on it lasting into the Easter weekend.’