Forecasters are anticipating a record-breaking end to the year, with warm air from the mid-Atlantic bringing unseasonably mild temperatures to the UK.
Warm south-westerly winds from the Azores have arrived in the UK, replacing the cooler northerly winds, causing the mercury to rise well into the mid-teens as 2021 draws to a close.
A continued period of milder weather means the record for the highest temperature on New Year’s Eve in the UK – 14.8C at Colwyn Bay in north Wales in 2011 – could be broken.
The mild temperatures are expected to last until the end of the week, before dropping to around 6C in Scotland and the north of England, and around 9C in the south of England from Bank Holiday Morning.
Craig Snell, forecaster with the Met Office, said the milder temperatures were “all to do with the wind direction”.
He said: “Earlier in the month we had some cold northerly winds, but from today the winds are coming in from the South West, you can trace the air back to the Azores and the central Atlantic.
“It’s still pretty warm there at this time of year, so we are tapping into the milder air that’s being dragged up to the UK.
“It means it’s very mild for the time of year, particularly in the South West of the UK.”
Temperatures on Wednesday are expected to hit 16C along the south coast, but still some way short of the December record of 18.7C experienced in 2019.
Mr Snell said: “I think people will continue to feel how mild it is over the coming days.
“We are keeping a close eye on the New Year’s Eve weather, because that record (14.8C) is quite under threat.
“But it looks like the transition (to cooler weather) will be on Bank Holiday Morning.
“We will see the winds switch around so temperatures will return down to normal, with a smidgen below normal in the north of the UK.”
It came as the Environment Agency issued more than 30 flood alerts on Wednesday morning, largely across central and south-west England, after heavy rainfall overnight.