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Friday, October 14, 2011

T-shirt time! Freak hot spell to hit Britain this weekend - as forecasters say this October will be hotter than summer


Glinting sea: A paraglider makes the most of the sunshine as he uses the thermals on the coast at Start Bay in South Devon

Britain will revel in another freak hot spell this weekend with October turning out to be hotter than our miserable summer.

The unseasonably warm autumn will continue with sunshine expected across the country today and tomorrow.

At a time of year in which the country normally steels itself against biting winds and bone-chilling downpours, the heat reached 20.8c yesterday and will stay at those levels into the weekend.

High life: A hanglider soars through the fresh October skies over Start Point today

Although it will not be hot enough to meet the Met Office's criteria for a heatwave, for many thousands of Britons it will provide an excuse to head to the beach.

Sunday will be cloudy but still warm, as the country gets to forgo the winter woollies for a little while longer.

But it looks like our last chance to make up for the barbecue weekends missed in June and July, before the weather turns colder and wetter next week.

Temperatures are set to plummet from Monday, as forecasters warn of snow in Scotland and nationwide frosts later this month.

Central England – the area between London, Bristol and Manchester - has enjoyed the hottest weather for the first two weeks of October in 350 years.

Golden glow: Friends Laura Grainger and Debbie Anderson, both 26, enjoy the autumn sunshine in Clifton, Bristol

Grape weather: Volunteer Heather Dougall joins the team picking the bumper crop at a vineyard in Dorset

And the balmy temperatures of the past few days have topped June's 14c daytime average and the 15c of July and August.

Volunteers at the vineyard Crawthorne estate, in Dorset, today began picking 40 tons of Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes.

The outlook had looked bad for the crop after a cold summer, which could have made the grapes too acidic, but the late sunshine has boosted their fructose production and saved the season.

Helen Bostock, senior adviser at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: 'When we get sun at this time of year it gives a super boost to asters and rudbeckia.

'We've also seen a second flush for a lot of roses, branches breaking under weight of ripe fruit and acorns scattering across people's cars.

'It's great news for hungry wildlife.'

Households have not even had to dig out the extra bedding usually needed at this time of year as night-time temperatures have been as high as 16c in Gravesend, Kent, at 2am – four degrees higher than the average October daytime.

Nowhere in England or Wales has experienced nighttime temperatures of below 13c this week, with many heading to pub gardens and pavement cafes to enjoy the mild evenings.

Sarah Holland from the Met office said: 'It may be cloudy and windy in the North and on the west coast tomorrow, but it will be a sunny day in most of central England and the South, reaching highs of 16-7c.

Glowing wings: A swan swoops down on a lagoon at Watermead Country Park, Leicestershire

'It will be a little more cold on Sunday with the possibility of a little drizzle but still dry for most people with highs of 16-7c in the South and 14-5c in the North.

'On Monday it will turn cooler with heavy showers expected through the week.'

Plants have been confused by the double summer, with traditional spring bedding plants and even daffodils blooming a second time.

Just two weeks ago, forecasters recorded a 30c high in South Yorkshire, with Gravesend reaching 29.6c. Last year, the highest temperature of October was 23.1c in Chivenor, Devon, and it got as cold as -6.6c at both Levens Hall in Cumbria and Sennybridge in Powys.

So with the Indian summer not over yet, only the arrival of Halloween will be making us shiver for now.



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