Bank holiday weekend expected to bring sunshine, showers and heavy traffic

Southern parts of the UK and the Midlands are expected to see the best of the sunshine over the May bank holiday weekend, with motorists warned to prepare for delays as people embark on shopping trips and family visits.

Forecasters say there will be a split across the UK on Saturday, with southern parts of England and Wales set to be dry and bright, while areas of northern England and Scotland could experience heavy outbreaks of rain.

Greg Dewhurst, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said there would be “plenty of sunshine around, but it will become cloudier the further north you are”.

He advised those looking for the sun to head to areas in the Midlands or East Anglia, where temperatures could peak at around 18C.

Meanwhile, the RAC has predicted as many as three million motorists making leisure trips on Saturday alone.

Alice Simpson, an RAC breakdown spokesperson, said: “In addition to the majority of motorists planning day trips and short breaks, our data shows local routes to city and out-of-town shopping centres could see heavy traffic, so it’s best to head out early morning or evening if possible.”

The breakdown company said the best times to travel over the weekend are before 9am and after 5pm and has advised motorists to avoid the roads between 9am and 2pm on Saturday where possible.

On Friday afternoon, most major routes across the South and South West are likely to take 50% longer than usual to travel, the RAC said, while on Bank Holiday Monday parts of the North West, East Anglia and South West will be hardest hit by returning traffic.

Ms Simpson also advised motorists to plan return journeys in advance, as the train strikes between Tuesday and the following Saturday will lead to most roads being busier.

“Industrial action can throw best-laid travel plans into chaos and many commuters who normally rely on the trains instead take to the roads, so our advice is to avoid driving at peak times of day if you can,” she said.

On Sunday morning, northern areas of the UK will experience heavy showers, although Mr Dewhurst said: “Hopefully, across the day, the clouds will break, and there will be some sunnier spells.”

The Midlands, East Anglia, and southern areas of Wales are set to experience the sunniest spells and warmest temperatures over Sunday and Monday.

In the sunniest areas, temperatures could peak at 19C to 20C.

Mr Dewhurst confirmed there are currently no Met Office weather warnings in place for the weekend, but urged people to continue to check in, with the forecast for Monday currently “uncertain” and changeable.

While the East Midlands and East Anglia should be sunny and warm, there is a chance of longer spells of rain developing in areas of the south of England.

The week leading up to the bank holiday weekend saw the UK hit with thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, while also experiencing its hottest days of the year so far on Wednesday and Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the Met Office recorded 4,840 lightning strikes across France and southern Britain.

The following day was the warmest of the year so far for all four home nations, according to the Met Office.

A peak temperature of 23.4C was recorded in Santon Downham in Suffolk, while in Scotland, the mercury hit 22.1C in Kinlochewe and Achnagart in the north Highlands.