Britain is set to enjoy its hottest day of the year so far for the third day in a row as temperatures soar to 84F (29C) – making the UK warmer than ten out of the 12 countries on the Government’s green list of destinations.
The very hot conditions over the past week have led to packed beaches, parks and beer gardens across the UK, with today being the seventh day in a row that the mercury will be above 70F (21C) somewhere.
And it means the UK is now warmer than most of the countries Britons can visit without having to quarantine upon their return – including Portugal (68F/20C in Lisbon), Gibraltar (77F/25C) and Israel (also 77F/25C, in Jerusalem).
Britain is also hotter than St Helena (70F/21C in Jamestown), Australia (63F/17C in Canberra) and New Zealand (57F/14C in Wellington), as well as Iceland (50F/10C), the Faroe Islands (50F/10C) and Falkland Islands (37F/3C).
And while it is no surprise that the UK is warmer than South Georgia (21F/-6C) given its proximity to Antarctica, the only two green list nations it is cooler than are Brunei (90F/32C in Bandar Seri Begawan) and Singapore (88F/31C).
However the warmth also sparked heavy thunder in South Wales and South West England this morning, with a Met Office warning covering Pembrokeshire, Swansea, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall from 5am until 11am.
The continued heat comes after highs of 79F (26.1C) in Cardiff yesterday and 77.2F (25.1C) at Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands on bank holiday Monday, both of which set new records for the hottest day of the year.
But it had taken two months for the 2021 high to be beaten, with the previous record having stood since March 30 when West London hit 76.1F (24.5C), with the UK seeing its coldest May since 1996 and double the average rainfall.
Cyclists make their way through Richmond Park in South West London this morning with the City visible in the background
Britain is warmer today than ten out of the 12 countries on the Government’s green list of destinations for foreign travel
A dog walker goes out in the early morning sunshine in the Oxfordshire countryside at Dunsden today
Temperatures are set to reach 83F (28C) or 84F (29C) in South East England today, which follows four days of dry weather between Friday and bank holiday Monday – the only completely dry days in May for England and Wales.
The mercury has now been rising every day for a week, with 75.2F (24C) at Achnagart in the Highlands last Sunday, 73.2F (22.9C) at Chivenor in Devon last Saturday, 71.8F (22.1C) at Achnagart again last Friday, 71.6F (22C) at Wisley in Surrey last Thursday and 65.5F (18.6C) at Killowen in County Down, Northern Ireland, last Wednesday.
How temperatures have risen over the past week
- June 1: 79F (26.1C) – Cardiff
- May 31: 77.2F (25.1C) – Kinlochewe, Highlands
- May 30: 75.2F (24C) – Achnagart, Highlands
- May 29: 73.2F (22.9C) – Chivenor, Devon
- May 28: 71.8F (22.1C) – Achnagart, Highlands
- May 27: 71.6F (22C) – Wisley, Surrey
- May 26: 65.5F (18.6C) – Killowen, County Down
Today is expected to be another fine day for many – while nationwide temperatures tomorrow are expected to lower a little but with fine and dry weather for most, although a few thundery showers remain possible.
The warm weather has been a welcome break for people following a washout May, which brought heavy downpours and prolonged spells of rain for much of the UK – but thunderstorms will hit the West today.
The storms this morning are due to bring a risk of damage to buildings and power cuts, travel disruption and up to 0.8in (20mm) of rain, while delays to train services and poor road conditions are possible.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: ‘The thunderstorms could bring lots of lightning, some hail, as well as some heavy rain, and with the half term there is an increased number of tourists in this area.
‘The thunderstorms do then push north-eastwards into the Midlands and across more of Wales, but they also ease and break up, so these places will see some showers but they won’t be as intense.’
The fine and warm start to meteorological summer – which officially began yesterday – is due to continue through the rest of the week, although there is set to be more cloud around the East Coast and western areas of England and Wales, where temperatures will be much fresher, in the 60Fs (high teens Celsius).
It will cool down more generally through tomorrow and Friday, with temperatures falling back to the 70Fs (low 20Cs). Sunseekers were being urged to wear sunglasses and sunscreen due to high levels of ultra-violet radiation.
The sunshine comes as figures released by the Met Office showed May was the fourth-wettest on record for the UK as a whole, the wettest on record in Wales and the fifth wettest on record for England.
Britain is LAST in Europe for bathing water quality
Britain has been ranked last in Europe for its bathing water quality, with only 110 coastal and inland sites out of 640 ranked excellent by an environmental watchdog.
The European Environment Agency found 12 sites were poor, 29 of sufficient quality and 32 good – although 457 of them received no verdict in the rankings because sampling was hampered by coronavirus restrictions.
The lack of data pushed the UK to the bottom of the table of 31 countries. Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Croatia and Austria were all praised by judges, having 95 per cent or more of their sites ranked as excellent.
Young people cool down at Warleigh Weir near Bath yesterday
The Met Office’s spring weather report said: ‘As summer starts with warm spells for many and a risk of thunderstorms, May was a month dominated by low pressure, bringing heavy downpours or prolonged spells of rain for much of the UK.
‘Wales has seen its wettest May since records began in 1862, with 245mm (9.6in) of rainfall, well over twice the long-term average, topping the previous record of 184mm (7.2in) set in 1967. It has been a similar story in May for much of the UK, with all countries seeing rainfall well above the long-term averages for the month.
‘The wettest locations, receiving more than twice the average rainfall, were South West and North-East England, as well as Wales and parts of eastern Scotland. Devon also had its wettest May on record with an average of 192mm (7.55in) of rainfall topping the 190mm (7.48in) record set in May 1869.
‘The UK has seen its fourth highest amount of rainfall on record for the month, with an average of 120mm (4.72in) falling. England had its fifth wettest May on record, and its wettest since 1967, with 111mm (4.37in) of rain.’
Mike Kendon, of the National Climate Information Centre said: ‘May 2021 has been a cool and wet month for most. Heavy showers, which normally characterise April, more than made up for their earlier absence during May.
‘As well as the rain, the cooler than average temperatures have been notable, with maximum temperatures having been particularly suppressed, often struggling to reach the high teens Celsius.
‘The average maximum temperatures reported in the month for the UK is around 1.5C lower than the long-term average and both minimum and mean temperatures are also well below where we would expect them to be. There have also been some unusually late frosts.
‘As often happens in the UK, the variability in monthly rainfall statistics have largely balanced out for the season overall, to bring the UK close to the average, with 94 per cent (224mm / 8.81ins) of expected rainfall.’
British holidaymakers are hoping more countries will be added to the green list – including the likes of Spain, Malta, Jamaica and the US – amid hopes the first update will be announced tomorrow to take effect next week.
How Kew Gardens is Britain’s favourite UK attraction – with the Eden Project, Snowdonia National Park and Natural History Museum also popular
TOP 5 IN ENGLAND
1. Kew Gardens, London
2. Eden Project, Cornwall
3. Natural History Museum, London
4. British Museum, London
5. Stonehenge, Wiltshire
Britons have revealed their favourite UK attractions – with Kew Gardens coming out on top.
A study of 2,000 adults has identified the top locations they consider to be their ‘happy places’, with the Eden Project, Snowdonia National Park, and the Natural History Museum also popular.
Stonehenge, The British Museum, Bath’s Roman Baths, ZSL London Zoo, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park also feature in the list.
And the Giant’s Causeway tops the UK’s bucket list of attractions to visit in the future.
The research was commissioned to celebrate The National Lottery Open Week and The National Lottery Cinema Weekend this month.
It also found 55 per cent associate their ‘happy places’ with their childhood. As a result, two thirds (66 per cent) have taken their children to these locations in the hope they will enjoy them as much as they do.
Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Chair of the National Lottery Forum, said: ‘Now, more than ever, people are excited to rediscover their happy place, or find a new one close to home.
‘We’re proud that so many incredible spaces across the arts, screen, heritage, sport, and community sectors have signed up to offer their thanks.
A view of the interior of the Temperate House during the reopening at Kew Gardens in West London in May 2018
TOP 5 IN SCOTLAND
1. Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
3. National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
4. Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow
5. Hampden Park, Glasgow
‘National Lottery Open Week and Cinema Weekend are really exciting moments in the year for us, where an amazing variety of venues and projects across the UK give thanks to National Lottery players for the £30million they raise each week for good causes.’
The research also identified what makes an attraction a ‘happy place’ – including ‘it cheers me up’ (40 per cent), ‘it never fails to amaze me (34 per cent) and ‘I feel like I can be myself there’ (20 per cent).
Around half (53 per cent) prefer to visit these locations with their partner, while 31 per cent prefer to go with their kids, and 25 per cent would rather head there with friends.
And on average, those polled have felt a special connection to a particular UK attraction for around 14 years – visiting it nine times in total.
For a whopping 81 per cent, the bond is so strong they admitted they’ve missed their ‘happy place’ as a result of the lockdown, while 48 per cent have developed a greater appreciation of the UK’s visitor attractions, cultural sites, history, and art.
The types of ‘happy places’ missed most are the wider UK countryside (45 per cent), heritage sites such as castles and gardens with historical value (33 per cent,) and theatres or cinemas (31 per cent).
Carried out through OnePoll, the study also identified what those polled want from a UK attraction, including value (44 per cent) and fun (37 per cent) – along with a surprise element (17 per cent) and educational benefits for kids (16 per cent).
TOP 5 IN WALES
1. Snowdonia National Park
2. Cardiff Castle
3. Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, Snowdonia
4. National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Cardiff
5. St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff
The National Lottery commissioned photographer Tom Oldham to capture a portrait series celebrating people revisiting their happy places following lockdown.
Subjects include boxing champion, Nicola Adams OBE, at the Fight for Peace Academy boxing ring in London; ex Liverpool and England star John Barnes MBE, reminiscing at Wembley Stadium; and British swimmer Daniel Jervis, back in the Wales National Pool in Swansea.
The series also includes architect Akiko Kobayashi in her beloved Collective art gallery in Edinburgh; local wildlife photographer, Tal Chohan, at RSPB Sandwell in Birmingham; and writer and film director, Marley Morrison, at the BFI Southbank, London.
Speaking of his ‘happy place’, RSPB Sandwell in Birmingham, photographer Tal Chohan said: ‘The last year has made me appreciate local wildlife more than ever.
‘Now that restrictions have lifted, I’m keen to get my friends here to show them the local natural world that I see through a lens.
‘This is my happy place as I think that nature can be healing – especially this past year.
‘I grew up around here, so I know the reserve quite well, and I’ve even got to know some of the wildlife pretty well too, such as Cedric the Swan.
‘I’ve missed people over lockdown, so it will be great to welcome them back again.’