Highs of 31C expected as Britain basks in glorious weekend sunshine
The mercury is set to rocket past 30C (85F) in parts of the UK, as Britons are being warned to stay safe amid a Europe-wide heatwave.
Sun-lovers hitting the beaches on England's south coast will see temperatures peaking at 31C (87.8F) over Saturday and Sunday, the Met Office predicted.
Areas along the Hampshire and Dorset coast, such as Gosport, are most likely to feel the heat on Saturday, while the hottest areas on Sunday are expected to be around London stretching north to the Midlands.
Temperatures could soar even higher early next week, with highs of 32C (89.6F) possible around London on Monday and Tuesday.
Britons making the most of the balmy weekend were urged to stay "sun sensible" amid the high UV levels.
However, not all of the UK will be gazing into clear blue skies - in Scotland and Northern Ireland clouds are likely with some thick enough to bring patchy rain to the north and west of Scotland.
The north-west, south-east split will continue early next week, with further showers expected across Scotland and Northern Ireland, while England and Wales stay generally dry and warmer.
Temperatures will need to climb significantly if they are to come close to England's current August record - 38.5C (101.3F) reached in Faversham, Kent, in 2003.
However, the intense heat is likely to lessen come Wednesday, as conditions turn "fresher and more changeable", the Met Office said.
It comes amid an intense European heatwave, with holidaymakers in Portugal and Spain feeling the sun most intensely.
The mercury is being driven higher by a hot air mass moving north from Africa, bringing dust from the Sahara Desert.
Earlier this week local records were smashed in eight areas of Portugal, with temperatures peaking at 45.2C (113.4F) near Abrantes, a town in the centre of the country.
Emergency services have issued a red alert until Sunday, with medical staff and firefighters on standby.
Meanwhile, 400 firefighters and five water-dropping aircraft are battling a wildfire in southern Portugal's Algarve region.
In Spain, heat warnings have been issued for 41 of the country's 50 provinces as temperatures are expected to reach up to 44C (111.2F).
In northern Europe, Sweden is still under threat from wildfires, which in recent weeks have extended into the Arctic Circle.
The Met Office said it was unlikely that the overall European highest temperature recorded - 48C (118.4F) in Athens, Greece in 1977 - would be beaten.
British holiday-makers abroad are being warned to avoid spending time in the sun during the hottest part of the day and to keep hydrated.