A new record has been set for the hottest late August bank holiday weekend in the UK after temperatures reached 31.6C (88.9F) at Heathrow.
It follows the highest ever UK temperature recorded last month at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, where the mercury hit 38.7C.
The Met Office announced the new record – the previous record of 31.5C was also set at Heathrow in 2001 – as Britain baked in sunshine, apart from some western and northern coastal areas that experienced low cloud.
In partnership with Public Health England (PHE), the Met Office had issued several heat alerts on Saturday evening.
Three areas – the Midlands, east of England and south-east England – were subject on Saturday to “amber” alerts, which are triggered when the forecast for the next day indicates that social and healthcare services will need to target specific actions at high-risk groups.
Temperatures were still climbing when the previous record high was broken as 31.6C (88.9F) was recorded at Heathrow at about 1pm, the Met Office said. An hour later, temperatures were rising towards 33C (91.4F) in the east and south-east of England, according to the Met Office meteorologist Sarah Kent.
She said: “It could be a maximum of 33C (on Sunday) and again on Monday. It is a bank holiday weekend. There is a lot of sunshine about to be had but people need to exercise some common sense.” She urged people to stay covered up at the beach, hydrated and also to keep safe by listening to coastguard announcements.
The previous highest late August bank holiday temperatures before this weekend were 31.5C (88.7F) at Heathrow in 2001, 27.3C (81.14F) in Velindre, Powys, in Wales in 2003 along with 27C (80.6F) in Knockareen, Co Fermanagh in the same year and 26.7C (80.06F) in Aviemore, Invernesshire, in Scotland in 1984. Temperatures reached 27.1C (80.78F) in Hawarden, Wales, and 23.6C (74.48F) in Ballywattcock, Northern Ireland, along with 26.2C (79.16F) in Prestwick, Scotland, by Sunday afternoon.
Revellers at the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday and Monday – expected to number 1 million – have been advised to stay hydrated amid temperatures forecast to surpass 30C on both days.
The late summer heat, as a result of warm air being dragged up over the UK from France, comes at the end of what has been a wet and chilly month so far.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With summer returning in time for the weekend for many of us, it’s going to mean millions of us take to the road for day trips and short breaks. Unfortunately, as the temperature rises so can the chances of a breakdown – so it’s important drivers check over their vehicle before setting out. Tyre pressure and tread, as well as oil and coolant levels, should all be looked at and doing so can really cut the chances of breaking down.
“Hungry, thirsty or tired passengers can also be recipes for in-car irritability – “carguments” – so pack enough food and water to keep your passengers happy, and plan in enough breaks along the way.”
Temperatures are expected to rise even further by Monday, possibly reaching a late August bank holiday record high of 33C – most likely in the south-east of England, the Met Office said.