Britons enjoyed basking in sunshine today as temperatures reached 57F (14C) ahead of a dry weekend that could bring even higher maximums – as scientists told how bright spring light really can make people happier.
The Met Office said tomorrow and Sunday would be ‘very different’ to last weekend, with high pressure nearby meaning most of the country will have a drier but cloudy couple of days and the winds will be much lighter.
Highs of 52F (11C) are expected in most of England tomorrow although Scotland could get up to 61F (16C), while Sunday will bring 54F (12C) maximums widely but temperatures could again hit the teens north of the border.
Photographs showed sun-seekers making the most of today’s bright weather at the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth, while parks in London were busy with people going for a walk or sitting on a bench to enjoy the conditions.
Temperatures were expected to reach 57F (14C) in Glasgow today, while London and Cardiff were both due to get to 52F (11C), Southampton 54F (12C), Newcastle 8C (46F), Manchester 50F (10C) and Belfast 55F (13C).
It comes after Britain recorded its warmest day of the year so far yesterday, with Edinburgh reaching 66.2F (19C) which beat the previous 2021 high of 65.1F (18.4C) set at Santon Downham in Suffolk on February 24.
Yesterday was also the UK’s warmest day since October 8 last year when Writtle in Essex got to 66.4F (19.1C), and it was the highest maximum in Scotland since 71.4F (21.9C) was recorded at Fyvie Castle on September 21, 2020.
People make the most of the warm spring sunshine today by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth on the south coast
People enjoy their lunch outside at Potter’s Fields Park near Tower Bridge in London in the sunshine this afternoon
People enjoy the warm sunshine as the sit on the shingle beach by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth today
People browse the stalls at Borough Market in London this afternoon as they enjoy the sunny conditions
A group of people bask in the sunshine and enjoy a picnic at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow as temperatures begin to rise
People eat their lunch on a bench at Greenwich Park in South East London today as they make the most of the sunshine
Meteorological spring started on March 1, but astronomical spring begins tomorrow – which is also the spring equinox, positioned halfway between the shortest and longest days of the year.
At this point day and night are at a roughly even length across the earth, which experts say could best suit the human circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle that tells the body when to carry out essential functions.
Temperatures were expected to reach 57F (14C) in Glasgow today, while London and Cardiff were both due for 52F (11C)
Stuart Peirson, professor of circadian neuroscience at Oxford University, told the Guardian: ‘We do all our laboratory experiments in 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. It’s a very balanced, neutral middle ground. We know that longer nights and longer days can influence the circadian system.’
The expert added that bright spring light can make people happier, and some can often find the dark of winter difficult to cope with.
Mr Peirson said some data ‘shows that light exposure during the day is related to quality of subsequent sleep’ – which can then affect mood and systemic health.
Giving the forecast for the next two days, Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said: ‘Compared to last weekend, it’s a very different story this weekend, with high pressure nearby meaning most of us will have a drier weekend and the winds will be an awful lot lighter as well.
‘Most places though are going to be fairly cloudy, sunshine in relatively short supply. A big area of high pressure dominating, but there is a weather front kind of trapped amongst it, and that’s just pivoting around.’
He said cold air across South East England will get pushed away through the weekend, but tomorrow morning will start with some frost and potentially some sunshine – although it will be a ‘cloudy day’ for most areas.
This weekend is expected to be cloudy but dry for most of the country with Scotland expected to be the warmest part
People sit by City Hall near Tower Bridge in London this afternoon as they meet up with friends in the sunshine
People go for a walk or a jog at Greenwich Park in South East London today as they make the most of the sunshine
Londoners walk near Potters Fields Park in London as Britain basks in sunshine and temperatures reach 57F in some parts of the country
Two people enjoy a drink at Potter’s Fields Park near Tower Bridge in London today as the capital is bathed in sunshine
People go for a walk in the sunny weather at Greenwich Park in South East London today on a bright day in the capital
People enjoy a drink in the sunshine by City Hall near Tower Bridge today as London enjoys bright conditions
People sit at Potter’s Fields Park near Tower Bridge in London today as they make the most of the sunny weather
People enjoy a drink and a picnic at Potters Fields Park near Tower Bridge in London ahead of a dry weekend
A person sits by a tree and enjoys the sunshine in central London as the city embraced rising temperatures today
Crowds of people enjoy the sunshine in Potters Fields Park in London as the capital enjoys warm and dry weather
Mr Deakin said the main exception to this will be eastern Scotland and North-East England where there should be ‘decent spells of sunshine through Saturday’.
He added: ‘But for most it will be dry, the main exception to that will be North-West Scotland, over the Highlands, the Western Isles and the Northern Isles where it will be quite breezy with some rain and drizzle at times.
‘Under the cloud, temperatures will struggle up to double digits, 10C, 11C, but with some sunshine North East England, Eastern Scotland likely to get into the teens, maybe as high as 16C possibly across some parts of Eastern Scotland.
‘The area of high pressure is still with us as we go through Sunday, that weather front fizzling out across England and Wales, but another one kind of topples in from the North during Sunday, basically introducing more cloud and a greater chance of a little bit of patchy rain and drizzle here and there as it sinks southwards.’
He said many places will be dry on Sunday, but it will be quite a cloudy day for most people, and the winds will be quiet light. Mr Deakin added: ‘I think basically it’s just going to be a predominantly cloud day.’
He continued; ‘Temperature-wise, well with the cloud around, we’re going to see highs of 9C, 10C, maybe 11C or 12C. And again, if it does brighten up, if we do see some breaks in the sunshine, well those temperatures could climb into the teens once more.
People go for a walk in the sunny weather at Greenwich Park in South East London today amid bright conditions in the capital
Two men enjoy a drink in the sunshine by City Hall near Tower Bridge on the south bank of the River Thames today
People out and about at Borough Market in London this afternoon as the third national coronavirus lockdown continues
People sit by City Hall near Tower Bridge in London today as they enjoy the sunny weather conditions in the capital
Britain recorded its warmest day of the year so far yesterday, with Edinburgh reaching 66.2F (19C) which beat the previous 2021 high of 65.1F (18.4C). Edinburgh Castle and the Balmoral Clock are pictured at sunset yesterday evening
‘But generally a lot calmer than last weekend, but a lot cloudier than it’s been through much of the week.’
Yesterday, Scotland recorded the top ten temperatures in the UK yesterday and was even warmer than Paris, Rome and Barcelona.
Warm as things have been, Scotland is unlikely to see a new record for the highest ever March day, which a very unseasonal 74.5F (23.6C) recorded at Aboyne in Aberdeenshire on March 27, 2012.
But the continued spell of fine weather managed to put continental destinations in the shade. Barcelona managed no more than 13C (55F), Rome saw only 11C (52F) while Paris was a gloomy 7C (44F).
A large area of high pressure to the west of Ireland has acted as a welcome buffer to wet and windy weather trying to come in from the Atlantic.