Good Friday is the hottest day of the year in Britain so far, with temperatures hitting 71F (22C) in London and ‘still rising’ as Britons flock to beaches and other beauty spots to enjoy the first normal four-day Easter Bank Holiday weekend in two years.
The mercury soared to the new high in St James’s Park today – breaking the record of 20.8C (69F) from March and hotter even than some European destinations, including Athens (21C/70F), Paris (21C/70F), Ibiza (17C/62F) and Majorca (20C/68F).
But the warm weather will not be limited to the UK capital, with temperatures predicted to reach the high teens in northern areas including Yorkshire and parts of Scotland.
It comes as millions of drivers are expected on the roads today in what is predicted to be the busiest travel day of the Easter weekend.
Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates declared: ‘It’s looking like Friday will be the warmest day of the year with highs of 22 to 23C, probably most likely in London.
‘The current highest temperature is 20.8C which was recorded in two places – St James Park in London on 23 March and Treknow in Cornwall on 25 March – so we should beat that tomorrow. Widely, it will be quite a warm day.’
Sun-seekers flock to Brighton beach on the first day of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
Jennifer Moore, 26, poses for a photo on the beach at St Annes-on-Sea, Friday April 15, 2022
People sit and lie on the grass in Greenwich, London at the start of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, April 15, 2022
Sun-seekers take paddle boards out to sea off the coast of Bournemouth, Friday April 15, 2022
Stuart Henderson enjoys sunshine from his beach hut on Bournemouth beach, Friday April 15, 2022
A hen do poses for photos as the ladies sit on their deck chairs on Brighton beach, Friday April 15, 2022
Huge crowds of sun-seekers enjoy a day out in Brighton at the start of the weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
People on the beach in Bournemouth on the first day of a four-day weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
Men in uniform on horseback riding through Hyde Park in central London, Friday April 15, 2022
An early morning commuter is pictured riding his bicycle in Windsor, Friday April 15, 2022
Swimmers pictured bathing at Warleigh Weir on the River Avon near Bath in Somerset, Friday April 15, 2022
Two people are pictured walking in Windsor on a lovely Friday morning, April 15, 2022
People are pictured queueing for ice cream in Hyde Park, London on the hottest day of the year, April 15, 2022
People on the beach in Bournemouth on the first day of a four-day weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
A cyclist is pictured on a country lane as the mist clear and the sun shines in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, April 15, 2022
A misty sunrise over Windsor Castle and the River Thames at Eaton College as the Easter Holiday begins today
Cars make their way along the A303 past Stonehenge in Wiltshire during the Easter getaway, Friday April 15, 2022
Holiday traffic queues to check-in for ferries at the Port of Dover, Kent, Friday April 15, 2022
As many as 21.5million car journeys are expected to be made in the UK across the four-day Easter weekend, the first free of Covid restrictions in more than two years. This graphic shows when and where drivers are likely to hit traffic this weekend, according to the RAC using data from INRIX
Mr Keates said although there may not be uninterrupted blue skies, most areas of the UK would enjoy sunny spells and high temperatures.
He urged beach-goers to ‘stick on the sunscreen’ and drink plenty of water to protect against higher-than-average UV levels.
The strength of UV rays could hit 6, which is considered ‘high’ on the Met Office’s index.
This increase has been caused by slightly depleted stratospheric ozone, which helps protect Earth from the rays, he said.
Naturally occurring reactions in the atmosphere as well as man-made emissions both contribute to the phenomenon, which is usually temporary, the forecaster added.
He said: ‘It’s a naturally fluctuating cycle, in part not helped by human emissions. There will be a short-term, slight depletion (in stratospheric ozone)… and the sun gets stronger in mid-April as well.
‘So if you’re going to be outside for a long time, stick on the sunscreen and protect yourself basically as there’s a slightly elevated risk of sunburn.’
Mr Keates said that some coastal areas may experience ‘misty and murky’ conditions caused by cloud earlier in the day but a lot of areas would be ‘bright if not sunny’.
Late in the afternoon there could be some showers across the Pennines and southern Scotland, but they are unlikely to be heavy.
Senior Meteorologist Craig Snell said: ‘As Bank Holidays go it is looking fairly fine and dry across the UK, so I think people will certainly be able to get out and enjoy the countryside or whatever it is they’re doing over the Easter weekend. The weather will be playing ball. All in all, it looks like travel conditions are going to be fairly ok, weather-wise.’
Chief Meteorologist Neil Armstrong said: ‘Most people will see some spells of decent bank holiday weather this weekend, and it will feel warm in places, particularly for the first half of the Easter break.
‘However, a low-pressure system will affect the northwest of the UK later Sunday, bringing unsettled weather to the north with some strong winds and rain in the northwest, which could impact driving conditions for some, but further south it will be drier, especially in the southeast.
‘There will be varying amounts of cloud, but temperatures are widely likely to be above average for the time of year, although low cloud might keep temperatures lower in coastal areas.
‘However, where the sun comes out people can expect some very pleasant spring conditions.’
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: ‘Humidity will rise on Wednesday and with an improving picture in the weather, the cloud start to break and it will be time for t-shirts.
‘It turns more settled through the latter part of the week and in the run-up to Easter, as high pressure builds.
‘We then get a bit of the desert as the warm air comes in from Africa at the end of the week.’
Meteorologist Annie Shuttleworth added: ‘If people are travelling for sunshine, then further eastern areas are more likely to see that brighter weather.
‘I think in the main for the bank holiday weekend, we’ll see temperatures quite widely above average across the UK and hopefully they could be very warm in the south-east in particular.
‘Warmer than average certainly, but nowhere near heatwave criteria. It will definitely be warmer than the week we’ve just had and last week.’
Meanwhile, Ladbrokes says this weekend looks set to play host to the hottest day of the year. The bookies now make it just a 1/3 shot for record temperatures for the year to be recorded anywhere in the UK on Saturday or Sunday. Elsewhere, odds have been slashed from 3/1 to just 5/2 on this being the hottest April ever.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘Things are hotting up on the weather front, and we could well be set for a record-breaking weekend as a result.’
And Coral has slashed the odds to 1-2 (from 6-4) on this weekend being a record hot Easter. They make it a 67% chance of this Easter being the hottest since records began.
The firm goes 4-5 for April to be the hottest since records began, while is it now 1-3 that 2022 will be the hottest year ever in the UK.
‘We are in for a glorious Easter weekend. Our betting suggests there is a 67% chance it could be a record hot Easter, so it might be a good idea to keep those Easter eggs in the shade,’ said Coral’s John Hill. ‘The prospect for the rest of the month also looks promising, so we have also the cut the odds on a record hot April.’
According to the Met Office, on Friday it will be cloudy in the north and west with outbreaks of rain and drizzle, tending to ease later. Brighter elsewhere, the weekend’s temperatures are likely to peak here at around 22C in the southeast.
On Saturday, Britons will see mixture of clear and sunny spells with cloudier areas and some showers. Those showers will be most likely in central and western areas early in the day but could develop elsewhere at times.
A few mist and fog patches inland at first and more extensive areas of low cloud and fog around some coasts will suppress temperatures a bit in those places, particularly in the east. Elsewhere it will feel warm, especially in any sunshine, but perhaps slightly cooler than Friday.
Sunday will be similar, although overall probably drier than Saturday, with showers confined mainly to the north and west. However, more persistent rain arriving in the evening from the west will signal a change to unsettled, cooler weather from Monday.
An estimated 4.62million journeys are likely to be made across the UK, with a further 22.48million across the bank holiday weekend in what could be the busiest in years, according to the RAC.
More delays are predicted following travel chaos on Thursday – as well as passengers at airports and train stations left waiting for hours in long queues.
A misty sunrise over Corfe Castle in Dorset at the start of a four-day weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
Contrails and wispy clouds over the countryside in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, Friday April 15, 2022
A view of the River Thames in Windsor at the start of a lovely Easter Bank Holiday weekend, Friday April 15, 2022
A volcanic sunrise above the River Thames near Gravesend, Kent, Friday April 15, 2022
Holiday traffic queues to check-in for ferries at The Port of Dover in Kent, Friday April 15, 2022
Many reported hour-long waits at Manchester and Birmingham airports, while dozens of British Airways and easyJet flights were cancelled at Heathrow.
Meanwhile, those at London St Pancras said they were standing in long queues for services to Europe on Thursday morning.
Rail passengers have also been warned of further delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83million over the weekend.
These include the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days from Good Friday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.
Parts of the railway between Birmingham International station and Coventry will also be closed, as will lines around Crewe station.
Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries were also still suspended as of Thursday night, which caused large queues of lorries forming on roads approaching the Port of Dover throughout the day.
On top of all the travel disruption, supplies of petrol and diesel at filling stations in some areas of the country have been at around half their usual level as the UK’s travel network comes under pressure.