Britain to bask in sunshine (test)
Britain will be bathed in glorious sunshine this week as the country is set to bask in the hottest days of the year so far.
Forecasters predict temperatures could reach as high as 25C (77F) on Wednesday - more than 10C above the average for the time of year - with parts of the UK likely to trump holiday hotspots in Spain, Italy and Greece in the coming days.
And the country could see warm weather continue over the next few months after the Met Office confirmed that hotter-than-average temperatures are more than twice as likely than below-average conditions until June.
The Met Office said the hotter weather had been caused by warm air flowing from the south, combining with a high pressure system to bring settled, sunny conditions.
A spokesman said: "This week's above average temperatures follow on from a similar spell last week, which saw temperatures top out at 21.9C (71.4F) at St James's Park in London on Friday.
"This was the 'warmest day of the year so far', but it looks like Tuesday and Wednesday will top that - which is to be expected as we head through spring and edge closer to the start of summer."
While snow was recorded on the Pennines yesterday, higher temperatures across much of the UK today brought slightly balmier weather.
Temperatures reached 17C (62.6F) at Middle Wallop in Hampshire, though in Scotland, where there was rain, the mercury only crept up to 5.3C (41.5F) at Salsburgh in North Lanarkshire.
But tomorrow temperatures are expected to soar to around 24C (75.2F) - 10C above the average maximum of 14.2C (57.6F) for April and hotter than Rome and Athens.
Sean Prenston, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "It will be largely a fine day, particularly across central and south east parts of England.
"We are looking at maximum temperatures of 24C (75.2F) in the London area, and generally across central and south east England it will be around 20C/21C (68F/69.8F)."
In Scotland and parts of northern England it will be around 11C (51.8F) to 14C (57.2F)
Wednesday is likely to be the warmest day of the year for much of Britain, with temperatures expected to reach 20C (68F) to 22C (71.6F) in much of southern England and Wales, according to MeteoGroup.
But the South East could see peaks of 23C (73.4F) to 25C (77F) - making it hotter than southern and central Spain, where Alicante will see 22C (71.6F) and Madrid 18C (64.4F).
But the winds of change will bring cooler weather from Thursday, with temperatures falling to around 14C (57.2F) to 17C (62.6F), though it will remain dry.
Meanwhile, a Met Office spokesman said that near to above-average temperatures are predicted for April to June.
There is a 20-25% chance that mean temperatures for the UK will fall into the warmest category, compared with a 10% chance of falling into the coldest category, he said.
It comes after temperatures soared to 21.9C (71.4F) in St James's Park in London on Friday.
With the heat came high levels of air pollution - eastern areas, the South East, East Midlands, Greater London, west London, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside were all affected by poor air quality.
Asthma sufferers, people with heart problems and older people were advised to "reduce physical exertion", particularly while outdoors.