UK weather: Millions to take advantage of bank holiday sunshine as country set for hottest day of the year

·3-min read

The bank holiday weekend is expected to bring blue skies, widespread sunshine and potentially the hottest day of the year so far, according to forecasters.

The dismal weather so far this month is set to improve with highs of 23C (73.4F) in London on Saturday and predicted temperatures of 24C (75.2F) in Manchester and Liverpool on Sunday.

It is set to get even warmer on Monday, possibly reaching 25C (77F) - the hottest temperature to be recorded so far this year.

The current high for 2021 was 24.5C (76.1F) recorded on 31 March in Kew Gardens.

Millions are expected to head off on day trips and weekends away, despite evidence that the spread of the Indian variant is pushing up coronavirus cases.

Some 10.8 million leisure car journeys are expected to take place, according to research from the RAC, which could clog up major routes.

Traffic is expected to peak on Saturday and Monday, but the stunning weather could increase traffic as people look to enjoy days out.

The rise in COVID-19 cases has led some experts to urge caution and cast doubt over whether the planned lifting of all legal limits on social contact in England on 21 June will go ahead as planned.

Experts have argued that restrictions should remain in place until more people have received both doses of a vaccine, amid reports that ministers are drawing up plans for a partial end of lockdown.

Nevertheless on Saturday, Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire was brimming with 4,000 visitors - with numbers capped to allow social distancing.

Among them were Wiltshire locals Emily and Anthony Brooks and their two children Harrison and Austin.

Mr Brooks told Sky News correspondent Ashna Hurynag that day trips have been a saving grace after a year in-and-out of restrictions.

"I think lots of people have been desperately waiting for when the weather would get nicer so we can go out and about a bit more," he said.

"Lots of people were going to pub gardens no matter what, drinking pints in the rain. This weather and a chance to be out as a family is what we've been waiting for."

Ms Brooks said the rise in numbers of Indian variant cases was playing on her mind.

She was echoed by the Bowser family from Birmingham who also attended the park.

Mr Bowser said: "The Indian variant does play on our minds but we've already been through all these rising cases in the past and now we're close to all being vaccinated so things may be different this time."

The sunshine marks an end to weeks of disappointing weather which had marred the reopening of pubs and restaurants, which until 17 May had only been allowed to offer outdoor dining.

According to the Met Office's early provisional stats, the UK has already had its fourth wettest May on record with an average of 199mm of rain falling, and a few days still to go.

The wettest locations, receiving more than twice the average rainfall, were southwest and northeast England, as well as Wales and parts of eastern Scotland.

Parts of Scotland and northern England even saw snow at the beginning of the month when temperatures of -5.5C (22.1F) were recorded.

Met Office forecaster Matthew Box said the nice weather would be a "welcome change" for many.

"Given that we have had a reasonably cold and then a wet couple of months through spring, with April being cold and May being wet and cloudy and generally on the cool side too, we've got a sunny end to May," he said.

However, he warned people should make sure to pack their sun cream if they're heading outside to enjoy the sun.

"It might catch a few people out given that we haven't seen much sun and UV levels are going to be quite high over the weekend as well so that's something to be aware of," he said.