Britain is set to sizzle on hottest March day since 1968

Britain could enjoy its hottest March day for more than 50 years today as temperatures rocket to 75F (24C) one day after lockdown restrictions were partially eased, allowing up to six people to meet outside again.

The warmest conditions are expected in South East England today, which will be on a par with the Spanish holiday island of Majorca, as people flock to parks and beaches to make the most of their newfound freedom.

Temperatures in March last exceeded 73F (23C) in 2012, and 75F (24C) in 1968 – a year which also saw the all-time record of 78.1F (25.6C) set in Mepal, Cambridgeshire, on March 29, 1968, in records dating back to 1884.

This morning also saw a dramatic diurnal range difference between low and high temperatures as the mercury rose by 37.1F (20.6C) in four hours at Santon Downham in Suffolk – from 29.1F (-1.6C) at 7am to 66.2F (19C) by 11am.

By 1pm the mercury had reached 68.9F (20.5C) in the same village, making today the warmest day of 2021 so far – and beating the record set only yesterday of 68.7F (20.4C) at St James’s Park in London and Writtle in Essex.

The warmer weather which began yesterday follows a blustery and wet weekend for many – and coincides with the end to the ‘stay at home’ order in the latest stage of the roadmap out of the third national coronavirus lockdown. 

Met Office meteorologist Steven Keates said today: ‘If we do get above 24C (75F) it will be the highest UK March temperature in 53 years. It seems a reasonable chance that’s going to happen.’ 

Hundreds of people flock to Barry Island beach in South Wales today as the temperatures soar in parts of Britain

Hundreds of people flock to Barry Island beach in South Wales today as the temperatures soar in parts of Britain

Hundreds of people flock to Barry Island beach in South Wales today as the temperatures soar in parts of Britain

A woman enjoys sunbathing on Brighton beach today as southern England makes the most of unseasonably warm weather

A woman enjoys sunbathing on Brighton beach today as southern England makes the most of unseasonably warm weather

A woman enjoys sunbathing on Brighton beach today as southern England makes the most of unseasonably warm weather

Sunseekers enjoy the weather at the Hot Walls pebble beach in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, today

Sunseekers enjoy the weather at the Hot Walls pebble beach in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, today

Sunseekers enjoy the weather at the Hot Walls pebble beach in Old Portsmouth, Hampshire, today

People flock to Brighton beach this afternoon to enjoy the warm and sunny weather on the South Coast

People flock to Brighton beach this afternoon to enjoy the warm and sunny weather on the South Coast

People flock to Brighton beach this afternoon to enjoy the warm and sunny weather on the South Coast

Sunseekers soak up the rays by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth this afternoon as temperatures soar across the South

Sunseekers soak up the rays by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth this afternoon as temperatures soar across the South

Sunseekers soak up the rays by the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth this afternoon as temperatures soar across the South

Warm spring sunshine at Camber Sands in East Sussex today as families enjoying the hot weather on the beach

Warm spring sunshine at Camber Sands in East Sussex today as families enjoying the hot weather on the beach

Warm spring sunshine at Camber Sands in East Sussex today as families enjoying the hot weather on the beach

Visitors enjoy the warm weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as temperatures soar in southern England

Visitors enjoy the warm weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as temperatures soar in southern England

Visitors enjoy the warm weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as temperatures soar in southern England

A man takes advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and relaxing of lockdown restrictions at Brighton beach today

A man takes advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and relaxing of lockdown restrictions at Brighton beach today

A man takes advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and relaxing of lockdown restrictions at Brighton beach today

People enjoy the warm weather on Tynemouth Beach on the North East coast today as they make the most of a day out

People enjoy the warm weather on Tynemouth Beach on the North East coast today as they make the most of a day out

People enjoy the warm weather on Tynemouth Beach on the North East coast today as they make the most of a day out

Two women make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset this afternoon

Two women make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset this afternoon

Two women make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset this afternoon

Swimmers take an early morning dip at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast as the mercury soars in the UK today

Swimmers take an early morning dip at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast as the mercury soars in the UK today

Swimmers take an early morning dip at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast as the mercury soars in the UK today 

A child stands amid blooming magnolia flowers at Kew Gardens in South West London today

A child stands amid blooming magnolia flowers at Kew Gardens in South West London today

A child stands amid blooming magnolia flowers at Kew Gardens in South West London today

He added: ‘It’s an exceptionally warm spell of weather with potential for some records to be challenged.’

Mr Keates said conditions would turn ‘cooler’ through Thursday ahead of the arrival of the Easter weekend.

How today could bring near-record breaking heat for March

  • The current top UK temperature for today is 68.9F (20.5C) at Santon Downham in Suffolk, making today the warmest day of 2021 so far
  • March temperatures were last above 73F (23C) in 2012
  • March temperatures were last above 75F (24C) in 1968
  • All-time March record was March 29, 1968 with 78.1F (25.6C) in Mepal, Cambridgeshire
  • Warmest day of 2021 so far before today was yesterday with 68.7F (20.4C) in London and Essex
  • Temperature rose by 37.1F (20.6C) in just four hours at Santon Downham in Suffolk this morning. It was 29.1F (-1.6C) at 7am but got to 66.2F (19C) by 10.55am
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But while southerners can expect conditions to be dry and sunny from today, northerners might still need to pack an anorak – with showers still a possibility until tomorrow.

Mr Keates also said Scotland’s highest temperature of the year was equalled by the 66.7F (19.3C) at Aboyne in Aberdeenshire yesterday and a new top temperature for 2021 so far in Northern Ireland was set by the 63.1F (17.3C) recorded at Helen’s Bay in County Down.

In traditional British topsy-turvy fashion, the weather is expected to change again from the middle of the week, with signs that cold air from the north could bring another dip in temperatures for Easter weekend.

By the end of the week, conditions are due to deteriorate, with showers likely in many areas.

Forecasters predict temperatures will drop to around or even below the seasonal average of 54F (12C) over Easter weekend, with widespread overnight frosts a possibility.

The coldest Easter weekend on record was in 2013 when -12.5C was recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire, on Easter Sunday, while the deepest snow recorded at Easter was on Good Friday came in 2010 when 36cm was measured at Strathdearn, northern Scotland.

The wettest Easter was in 1991 when 108.7mm of rainfall was recorded at Seatoller, in Cumbria, on Easter Monday.

Yesterday much of England was cloaked in grey skies as blustery conditions left temperatures feeling three or four degrees cooler than the 12C to 14C (54-57F) showing on the thermometer.

A group of young people walk through Primrose Hill in North London as they enjoy the pleasant weather conditions

A group of young people walk through Primrose Hill in North London as they enjoy the pleasant weather conditions

A group of young people walk through Primrose Hill in North London as they enjoy the pleasant weather conditions

Members of a local scooter club on the sea front on Boscombe beach during a socially distanced meet up today

Members of a local scooter club on the sea front on Boscombe beach during a socially distanced meet up today

Members of a local scooter club on the sea front on Boscombe beach during a socially distanced meet up today

People enjoy the sunshine at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire today as they go for a walk through a park

People enjoy the sunshine at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire today as they go for a walk through a park

People enjoy the sunshine at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire today as they go for a walk through a park

People make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset today

People make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset today

People make their way past beach huts on the sea front on Boscombe beach in Dorset today

People look at the views of London from Primrose Hill today as they make the most of the warm and sunny conditions

People look at the views of London from Primrose Hill today as they make the most of the warm and sunny conditions

People look at the views of London from Primrose Hill today as they make the most of the warm and sunny conditions

A couple walk up Primrose Hill in North London today as they enjoy the warm conditions in the capital

A couple walk up Primrose Hill in North London today as they enjoy the warm conditions in the capital

A couple walk up Primrose Hill in North London today as they enjoy the warm conditions in the capital

Two people enjoy a picnic on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as the warm weather continues

Two people enjoy a picnic on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as the warm weather continues

Two people enjoy a picnic on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as the warm weather continues

People sit on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as they make the most of the pleasant weather conditions

People sit on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as they make the most of the pleasant weather conditions

People sit on the grass at Primrose Hill in North London today as they make the most of the pleasant weather conditions

Three friends enjoyed a fresh start to the day as they went for a swim in the North Sea during sunrise at Tynemouth beach

Three friends enjoyed a fresh start to the day as they went for a swim in the North Sea during sunrise at Tynemouth beach

Three friends enjoyed a fresh start to the day as they went for a swim in the North Sea during sunrise at Tynemouth beach

Paddleboarders donned their wetsuits and hit the sea at Cullercoats Bay at as the sun came up this morning

Paddleboarders donned their wetsuits and hit the sea at Cullercoats Bay at as the sun came up this morning

Paddleboarders donned their wetsuits and hit the sea at Cullercoats Bay at as the sun came up this morning 

Meanwhile Scotland will be hit by rain, wind – and even snow over the Bank Holiday weekend.

A yellow Met Office warning for torrential rain was extended by 15 hours yesterday, meaning it will have been in force for 63 hours by the time it expires at 9am tomorrow.

At one stage yesterday, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency had 46 flood alerts and warnings in place.

Monsoon-like conditions continued to lash the North-West, flooding roads and closing the West Highland rail line between Crianlarich and Fort William.

For the Easter weekend forecasters said Arctic air on Sunday could bring snow showers. Oliver Claydon of the Met Office said: ‘We expect to see a return to wintry conditions.’

In Wales, the stay local order ended on Saturday and people were allowed to stay in self-contained holiday accommodation.

Anna Heslop, 25, paddleboarding during sunrise at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast

Anna Heslop, 25, paddleboarding during sunrise at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast

Anna Heslop, 25, paddleboarding during sunrise at Cullercoats Bay on the North East coast

Early morning swimmers brave the cold water in New Brighton marina in the Wirral this morning

Early morning swimmers brave the cold water in New Brighton marina in the Wirral this morning

Early morning swimmers brave the cold water in New Brighton marina in the Wirral this morning

Runners made the most of the sunny start as they got out and did some exercise through London Bridge

Runners made the most of the sunny start as they got out and did some exercise through London Bridge

Runners made the most of the sunny start as they got out and did some exercise through London Bridge 

Friends took the opportunity to have a catch up in the sun in Stratford-upon-Avon today

Friends took the opportunity to have a catch up in the sun in Stratford-upon-Avon today

Friends took the opportunity to have a catch up in the sun in Stratford-upon-Avon today

Commuters enjoyed a sunny walk into the office along London Bridge this morning

Commuters enjoyed a sunny walk into the office along London Bridge this morning

Commuters enjoyed a sunny walk into the office along London Bridge this morning 

Dog walkers took their pets out for an early morning stroll in Wimbledon, south west London today

Dog walkers took their pets out for an early morning stroll in Wimbledon, south west London today

Dog walkers took their pets out for an early morning stroll in Wimbledon, south west London today

Runners were out in force in Wimbledon, south west London early this morning

Runners were out in force in Wimbledon, south west London early this morning

Runners were out in force in Wimbledon, south west London early this morning

Commuters cross London Bridge in the the morning sunshine today, with temperatures expected to climb throughout the day

Commuters cross London Bridge in the the morning sunshine today, with temperatures expected to climb throughout the day

Commuters cross London Bridge in the the morning sunshine today, with temperatures expected to climb throughout the day

Tower Bridge and the Thames was a picturesque sight in the morning sunshine early today

Tower Bridge and the Thames was a picturesque sight in the morning sunshine early today

Tower Bridge and the Thames was a picturesque sight in the morning sunshine early today

Tuesday will be warm, dry and sunny for much of the country - though weather warnings for rain remain in Scotland

Tuesday will be warm, dry and sunny for much of the country - though weather warnings for rain remain in Scotland

Tuesday will be warm, dry and sunny for much of the country - though weather warnings for rain remain in Scotland

Tuesday will be warm, dry and sunny for much of the country - though weather warnings for rain remain in Scotland

Tuesday will be warm, dry and sunny for much of the country – though weather warnings for rain remain in Scotland 

Chaos yesterday as crowds gather at the Arboretum park in Nottingham city centre yesterday

Chaos yesterday as crowds gather at the Arboretum park in Nottingham city centre yesterday

Chaos yesterday as crowds gather at the Arboretum park in Nottingham city centre yesterday

The stay home order in Scotland is to end on Friday, while in Northern Ireland up to six people, or two households, will be able to meet outdoors from Thursday.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister has urged people to remain cautious as the relaxation of lockdown measures in England coincides with an ongoing ‘exceptionally warm’ spell of weather.

Across the country yesterday, people made the most of sunny conditions and the easing of rules which means groups of up to six, or two households, are now able to socialise in parks and gardens while outdoor sports facilities can reopen.

The lifting of some restrictions saw golfers return to the fairways and swimmers take the plunge in outdoor pools as temperatures rose. 

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