Brits will get their first taste of summer in the coming days, with temperatures set to exceed 20C (68F) for the first time this year.
Showers and longer showers are expected across much of England and Wales today, bringing a blustery week to a close for a mostly dry weekend.
The Met Office expects highs of 15C (57F) in southern England tomorrow before 19C (66F) on Sunday – and then similar highs next week with a chance of 20C (68F).
On Sunday it is expected to be warmer in London and the South East than European hotspots such as Rome (17C/63F), Nice (18C/64F) and Barcelona (18C/64F).
The UK’s warmest temperature to date was 17.8°C (64F) recorded at Santon Downham in Suffolk on March 30, so this is likely to be surpassed in the coming days.
Rain is expected today at Aintree Racecourse for Ladies Day with maximums of just 9C (48F) – although tomorrow will be sunny and 12C (54F) for the Grand National.
A person jogs along the River Thames during sunrise in London yesterday
People made pedal boats in the sun yesterday on the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park
Someone is looking at the skyline of the City of London in the capital yesterday in the sun
Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said: “Things will settle down in many areas. Temperatures will become a lot milder over the weekend.
The theme for next week is that it will be mostly dry with temperatures above average and well above average in places.
“After what has been a troubled period, it will finally feel like we are entering the latter part of spring, moving towards a more summery regime. The temperatures will feel quite pleasant.’
Mr Dixon said the warmest temperatures are likely to be in the east and some northern regions, sheltered by high ground, where it could reach the ‘tens and possibly low 20s Celsius’.
Today it remains restless in the south with outbreaks of heavy rain and moderate winds. Further north it will become clearer with sunny spells, light to gentle winds, varying amounts of cloud cover around and a threat of showers that can be locally heavy and thunderstorms.
Tonight, showers will lessen during the day and dissipate during the evening to reveal late sunny spells, but heavy rain will fall in the east, gradually thinning and clearing southeasterly during the night.
Elsewhere it will remain generally dry with clear spells and only some local cloud cover.
Tomorrow will start dry and clear with early sunshine, but variable clouds will develop during the day, so the chance of some isolated and light showers is small.
During the course of the evening there is a chance of rain across Northern Ireland and light to gentle winds for most.
The outlook for Sunday is mostly dry but cloudy, although clouds will break and some clear or sunny spells will break through. Some showers are also possible.
Monday will be mostly dry with lots of sun, but in the north and west there will be variable clouds with a chance of showers.
In its longer-term forecast through April 27, the Met Office said: ‘Much of the UK is likely to be impacted by high pressure, bringing fine, dry conditions.
Cloudy skies and maybe some moisture in the far west. Otherwise, it is likely that some good cloud cover will break, especially in the lee of high ground.
‘Temperatures around average to fairly warm. Eastern coastal areas probably cooler with an onshore breeze, also some locally cold nights in good shelter.’
For late April to early May, the Met Office said there is “a greater chance of a stable weather regime, retaining the chance of clearer and drier conditions.”
Waves crash around the lighthouse on the harbor arm at Folkestone in Kent on Wednesday
It added: “However, periods of more volatile and unsettled weather are still possible. Temperatures trending above average are more likely than below.”
The Met Office also said temperatures will rise from Sunday and into next week, but the country is “not approaching official heatwave levels.”
It defines an official heat wave as “when a location records a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting or exceeding the heat wave temperature threshold.”
A “mini-heat wave” — a phrase used to describe Sunday’s conditions — is not a meteorological term, but one colloquially used to describe a period of above-average temperatures.
During Storm Noa earlier this week, gusts of up to 156km/h were recorded as high winds brought down trees across large parts of Britain, causing power outages and blocking railway lines.
And a man’s body was found washed up on a beach yesterday morning after a search of Brighton Palace Pier during the harsh conditions.