Britain basks in beautiful sunshine as winter draws to a close

Tess de la Mare, PA

Britons have been enjoying the beautiful sunshine this weekend as winter draws to a close.

Spring was definitely in the air as people flocked to parks and beaches to enjoy the flowers and blue skies, with some brave souls even taking a dip.

But while the weather is pleasant, the UK is some way off the record temperatures for this time of year.

Temperatures around London and the South East reached 14C (57.2F) on Saturday – above the 9C (48.2F) or 10C (50F) that would be expected, but nowhere near the 21.2C (70.2F) record set at Kew on February 26 2019.

Craig Snell, a meteorologist with the Met Office, pointed out that meteorological spring begins on Monday, so the clear and bright weather is not too unusual.

He added that while temperatures in the day have been a little above average, it has been colder than normal at night – hitting minus 4C (24.8F) in parts of the South East over Friday night into Saturday.

Winter weather
People enjoy the sunshine on Bournemouth beach (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Snell told the PA news agency: “We are below par by night and above par by day, but technically it is kind of what you expect this time of year as we are coming out of winter.”

“The air is always changing at this time of year,” he said.

He added: “Most Februarys we will see temperatures getting into the low teens at least, so I wouldn’t say the weather is unusual.

“But certainly compared to a couple of weeks ago a lot of places had snow on the ground and were really struggling above freezing, it is a big contrast.”

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

The highest temperature recorded on Saturday was at Craibstone in Aberdeenshire, which saw 14.9C (58.8F).

A little over two weeks ago, Aberdeenshire logged the coldest temperature seen in the UK for 26 years at Braemar, when the mercury fell to minus 22.9C (73.2F).

Sunday is set to be another sunny and pleasant day for most of the UK, although parts of the South East, East Anglia and the Midlands will see some fog and low cloud in the morning.

“I think a lot of the UK will probably will see lots of sunshine,” Mr Snell said.

“There will probably be a little bit more cloud around in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but on the whole it will be another fairly dry, settled and spring-like day for a lot of the UK.”

Winter weather
The Clifton Observatory next to the Clifton Suspension bridge on top of the Avon Gorge, Clifton, Bristol (Ben Birchall/PA)

Temperatures will probably be around average at 10C (50F) or 11C (51.8F) by early next week, with a little more cloud around and some showers across the UK by Wednesday.

The highs seen this weekend are lower than those recorded earlier this week – Santon Downham in West Suffolk recorded 18.4C (65.1F) on Wednesday.

Despite the lovely weather and the success of the vaccine rollout, the public have been warned they must stick to social distancing and the road map out of lockdown laid out by the Government last week.

Professor Jonathan Van Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, said on Friday: “Please don’t be tempted to think, ‘Well, one home visit might be all right now the weather is getting better, going to be a nice weekend, one small gathering in your house won’t really matter’.

“So my key message tonight is look, this is all going very well but there are some worrying signs that people are relaxing, taking their foot off the brake at exactly the wrong time.”

Winter weather
Sun worshippers making the most of the rays (Steve Parsons/PA)

Under the current plan for lockdown easing, socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will be permitted from March 8.

As of March 29, groups of up to six people or two households will be allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

By May 17, two households or groups of up to six people may be allowed to mix indoors, with all remaining restrictions hopefully lifted by June 21.