Britain is set for a sizzling bank holiday with blistering heat providing ideal conditions for a weekend getaway – except for hay fever sufferers who will need their tissues and tablets at the ready.
A combination of extreme heat – which is set top Athens at 86F (30C) – thunderstorms and rising pollen levels will trigger a sneezing frenzy, experts warn.
The Met Office is forecasting moderate pollen levels across the south this weekend with Sunday likely to be the worst day.
And despite temperatures rocketing towards the thirties, unstable air will trigger thunderstorms in some parts of the country as the weekend draws to a close.
Benji Waite, aged three, is pictured here cooling down with an ice-cream at Paultons Park near Southampton, Hampshire
Citizens and two armed police officers out and about in Parliament Square under clear blue skies on a hot and sunny day in the capital
Bathers enjoy the hottest day of the year at Hampton pool in Hampton, Surrey, on Friday as the country warms up for the bank holiday weekend
People enjoy a relaxing stroll along the sands in the sunshine at Mudeford, near Sandbanks, in Dorset
A young family enjoy the view of Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park as temperatures continue to soar towards 30 degrees across Britain
Youngster James Botan, 3, has fun building sandcastles at Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside as the continuted spell of sunshine sees crowds flock to the beach
Three-year-old James and his one-year-old Isabella Botan have fun building sandcastles at Cullercoats Bay earlier today
A yellow weather warning has been issued for storms for part of the country, but the Met Office insists these are likely to be passing, and days out ‘ not be a complete write-off’.
Forecaster Emma Sharples said: ‘It is going to be very warm on Saturday with temperatures widely in the low 20Cs and possibly higher.
‘There is a chance of thundery outbreaks and some heavy downpours due to warm, humid and unstable air.
‘It looks like Saturday will be the warmest day of the weekend with things turning fresher towards the bank holiday.’
Millions will head out to Britain’s parks and beaches to soak up the rays while supermarkets are braced for a shopping frenzy.
Marks and Spencer is getting ready for the first ‘barbecue weekend’ of the year as Britons stock up on party food and drinks.
It expects sales of sausages and burgers to soar 56 per cent on last year as ice creams, frozen yoghurt and salads fly off the shelves.
A spokesman said: ‘With temperatures set to hit the high 20Cs, we’re predicting this to be the first official barbecue weekend of the year so far.
‘We know our customers have been itching to dust off their barbecues and picnic mats, so we are stocking up our shelves with delicious burgers, sausages and picnic treats to ensure we keep up with demand.’
But many people may be caught unawares with unusual weather conditions threatening to set off ‘upside-down’ hay fever.
Hot weather causes pollen levels to rise but as the air warms irritant particles lift above head height and symptoms ease.
Pollen sinks when the air cools later in the day which is why sufferers often fare worse in the morning and evening.
However when hot weather coincides with storms, heavy rainfall brings pollen back down to nose-level outside these times.
More people in Greenwich Park. Millions will head out to Britain’s parks and beaches to soak up the rays over the bank holiday weekend
People enjoy the sunshine by the beach huts on Blyth Beach in Northumberland
A black Labrador cools down whilst splashing through the Ornamental Lake on Southampton Common to fetch a tennis ball
A view of Greenwich maritime basking in sunshine on a hot day today, which is expected to continue over the bank holiday weekend
Sunseekers relax in deckchairs at Cullercoats Bay. The hot weather could create issues for hayfever sufferers, however
Allergy expert Max Wiseberg of HayMax balms warned erratic weather this weekend could catch out millions of suffers.
He said: ‘Although you would expect your hay fever to calm down when the sunshine disappears and is replaced by rain, for some, it’s the reverse.
‘Upside-down hay fever sufferers typically experience their symptoms at the wrong time.
‘When the sun comes out and there’s lots of pollen hay fever symptoms can actually ease, but on rainy days people end up sneezing, dribbling and itching even more than usual.
‘This is because grass releases pollen in the morning and as the ground heats up and air rises clouds of pollen are lifted.
‘When pollen reaches head height, people find they are hit by the worst of it.
‘When it starts raining the air cools, the rain brings all that pollen back to head height and wallop here comes your hay fever again’
Mr Wiseberg added: ‘The best way to deal with ‘upside down’ hay fever and ‘normal’ hay fever is to avoid the pollen whenever you can.
FA CUP FINAL COULD BE THE HOTTEST IN 145 YEARS
Footballers and fans could swelter through the hottest ever FA Cup Final in 145 years tomorrow – with players set to sweat up to nine pints and lose almost a stone in weight, amid fears of heatstroke.
The Met Office forecasts highs in the shade in London up to around 29C – but feeling like 32C in the 55 per cent humidity.
Arsenal and Chelsea players face temperatures soaring towards 40C in the sun.
Forecasters said temperatures will still be high at the 5.30pm kick-off – and warned of fainting fans.
Experts warned players face problems including dehydration and heatstroke if they push themselves beyond ‘critical’ limits.
England footballers who played Italy at Manaus, Brazil, in 30C temperatures in the 2014 World Cup, sweated up to to 5litres (8.9pints) – losing around 5kg (11.3lb) of body weight minus fluids drunk, according to Lucozade Sport.
Arsenal and Chelsea are set to enjoying scorching sunshine for the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday (pictured: managers Arsene Wenger and Antonio Conte)
Sports training analysts Peak Performance Online said: ‘The body’s core temperature rises with exercise and this is exacerbated in hot conditions. ‘Regardless of fitness, there is a critical core temperature limit – at which point athletes are forced to reduce intensity or risk heat-related illness.’
Bobby Charlton famously lost 10lb (4.6kg) weight through sweat in just an hour of England’s classic encounter with Pele’s Brazil at the Mexico 1970 World Cup.
The FA Cup Final, first played in 1872, used to be played in April, then in early May – before the switch to late May in recent years.
Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: ‘Saturday looks close to 30C. It will be sticky and uncomfortable and warm for FA Cup Final players, and still feel humid at 5.30pm. Humidity increases how uncomfortable heat feels.’
Roadworks are lifted to ease bank holiday traffic squeeze as Britons hit the road
With the decreased value of the pound pricing many Brits out of long weekends abroad, the nation’s roads are set to be packed with people flocking to domestic ‘staycations’.
With Sterling down more than 13 per cent against the dollar and nine per cent against the pound since the EU Referendum last summer, revenue of British holiday parks has increased.
That trend is set to continue after the UK currency dropped further this week due to rapidly fluctuating General Election polls.
Britain’s roads are set to be packed with people flocking to domestic ‘staycations’ because of the decreased value of the pound has made trips abroad more expensive
In a bid to ease congestion, Highways England has announced it is lifting more than 300 miles of roadworks to help people travelling this May bank holiday.
This means almost 98 per cent of motorways and strategic A roads will be roadworks-free over the bank holiday.
But there will still be 164 miles of road works across the country, including 26 miles on the A1 near Leeming, 20 miles on the M6 near Crewe and 16.25 miles on the M3 near Farnborough and Camberley.
Motoring groups have warned to expect heavy traffic with hot weather likely to cause road surfaces to melt.
Mark Shankland, managing director of AA Tyres, said: ‘With the mercury peaking at a scorching 30C in some parts of the UK drivers should be especially cautious when heading out on the roads.
‘Roads start to soften around 27C and as tarmac is a darker surface, it retains the heat better.
‘This can lead to the asphalt warping, causing bulges and cracks to appear in the road.
‘A softer surface will affect the grip of the tyres and your braking, which will impact your stopping distances and the quality of your drive.’
ANTICIPATED TRAFFIC HOTSPOTS ACROSS THE UK
M5 Almondsbury Interchange and from Bristol to Taunton
A303 Andover to Ilminster A30 and A38
Exeter to Cornwall M4 between Cardiff and Swansea
M25 between Gatwick and M1 A23/M23 to Brighton
A34 and M3 south and south west to the south coast
A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
A11 Thetford to Norwich
M55 between Preston and Blackpool
A14 between the Midlands and the east coast
A590/A591 between the M6 and the Lake District A66 between M6 and the coast
M53 between Liverpool and Chester
Train lines are slow going, however,as Network Rail halves some speeds to stop rails from buckling.
Network Rail said it imposed some speed restrictions – which usually halve train speeds – as ‘direct sunshine’ threatened to buckle rails.
Hot but cloudy conditions cause fewer problems as the sunshine reaching ground level is weaker.
Dozens of services are understood to have been delayed, by up to 30 minutes. More speed restrictions are expected tomorrow after Network Rail speed restrictions included Virgin Trains’ west coast main line between Lancaster and Preston, and Milton Keynes and Rugby – also hitting London Midland.
Other firms suffering speed restriction delays include Great Western Railway and Arriva Trains Wales on the London-Wales main line near Cardiff, and Greater Anglia between Norwich and Lowestoft.
Speed restrictions began being imposed on Wednesday.
Stephen Ng tweeted: ‘I’ve heard it all now. GWR say the rails between Cardiff and Newport are too hot, hence a speed restriction and 23 minutes late.’
Chris Roberts tweeted: ‘GWR, what will happen when we have even hotter days?’
A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘Rails in direct sunshine can be 20C hotter than air temperature. Rails expand as they get hotter and can start to buckle. ‘Speed restrictions are imposed as slower trains exert lower forces on the track, reducing the chance of buckling.’
Passengers are also being asked to check their travel plans in advance as it prepares to carry out a major programme of engineering works over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Work at Seven Kings and between Harold Wood and Shenfield will disrupt travel in and out of Liverpool Street station. There will also be work between Bethnal Green and Forest Gate.
There will be no Southeastern trains between London Charing Cross and London Bridge. Most services will be diverted to start and terminate at London Cannon Street.
There will be reduced services to and from London Paddington and Slough stations.
Train lines are slow going as Network Rail halves some speeds to stop rails from buckling. Network Rail said it imposed some speed restrictions – which usually halve train speeds – as ‘direct sunshine’ threatened to buckle rails
Work between Carstairs and Edinburgh will see lines closed between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.
Passengers will be delayed by work between Didcot Parkway and Swindon.
There could also be continued disruption in and around Manchester following the terror attack, with Victoria station and roads in the centre of town remaining closed until further notice.
But bosses at the Rail Maritime & Transport union have agreed to suspend train strikes planned for next week in light of the bomb at Manchester.
Staff at Northern rail, Merseyrail and Southern rail were due to walk out for 24 hours from midnight on Tuesday next week as part of a long-running dispute over ‘driver only’ trains, which strip guards of the responsibility for opening and closing the train doors.