Brits are set to bask in the hottest winter temperatures for almost 200 years – before ‘Mad March’ storms arrive reaching speeds of 70mph, according to forecasters.
The ‘Moroccan melt’ heading to Britain from tomorrow may also prompt toxic smog warnings due to the warm air crossing Spain and France, where power stations and vehicle fumes worsen pollution.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said: “Occasional moderate and possible high levels of air pollution are forecast over parts on Sunday, perhaps becoming more widespread.”
“Shock to the system” storms are then due from next weekend and through March, with snow flurries in the North as temperatures tumble.
But before that, Britain will be hotter than 17C in the Bermuda with the Met Office predicting this weekend could see highs of 18C, and 19C on Monday and Tuesday.
Met Office forecaster Dean Hall said: “It’s quite exceptional weather and such a contrast to the Beast from the East 12 months ago.
“After 17C at the weekend, 18C or a touch higher is possible on Monday and Tuesday.
“But a stark change is ahead, with later in the week seeing rain and strong winds risking gales of over 50mph.
“Temperatures will return to near normal and the theme of Atlantic systems bringing wet and windy spells looks to remain until late March.
“The North and West will see the strongest winds and could see wintry showers on high ground in Scotland, and the South and East will also see wet and windy spells.”
Meanwhile daytrippers are rushing to beaches and congesting coastal roads including the A23 to Brighton, A31 to Dorset, A30 to Cornwall and M55 to Blackpool.
A Brighton beach spokesman said: “Visitors are in t-shirts. We’re busy.”
Supermarkets are set for an out-of-season ‘BBQ weekend’ rush for burgers, drinks and picnic food, while pub beer gardens reopened in winter.
Temperatures will be close to Britain’s winter record, the 19.7C on February 13, 1998, at Greenwich, London. Met Office records began 178 years ago in 1841.
Monday will be the hottest February 25 on record if highs beat the 16.6C in 1976 at Aberdeen, date temperature records used for Met Office records show.
Highs are treble usual 6-7C February maximums.
The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: “19C highs pushing the winter record are possible on Monday and Tuesday.
“February is famous for skiing – not sunbathing – but warmth is near record levels thanks to African air plumes.
“But the Atlantic will hit back with stormy spells and gusts of up to 70mph threatening in early March.”
Ex-BBC and Met Office forecaster John Hammond of weathertrending added: “The calendar says it’s winter but spots may see warmth near record levels.
“But early March may bring a shock to the system.
“A burst of jet stream energy will bring wet and windy weather, with a turbulent, even stormy, few days from March 4.
“The start of spring looks a good deal chillier than the end of February, with snowfall most likely across high ground of northern Britain.
“March 11-24 has more rain, wind and snow expected.”
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