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Northern Ireland sizzles in the sun on a glorious Bank Holiday

Crowds flock to beaches and races at Down Royal as temperatures hit 20C

By Allan Preston

A sun-kissed Northern Ireland basked in beautiful weather yesterday during what was the hottest day of the year so far.

A peak temperature of 20.1C was recorded in Castlederg.

The combination of Bank Holiday Monday and the glorious sunshine saw a mass exodus to our beaches.

However, there were long traffic tailbacks clogging the roads into both Newcastle and Portstewart.

Elsewhere, there were fine conditions for spectators and competitors for the May Day races at Down Royal Racecourse.

Thousands turned out for the annual event in Lisburn, which saw just as much emphasis on the fashion as there was on the horses competing in the sunshine.

Families also flocked in their thousands to the coast at Seapark in Holywood enjoying icecream, sunbathing and a quick dip into the sea.

Among the runners feeling the heat yesterday during the Belfast Marathon was 58-year-old Roger Boyd from north Belfast, who ran through the hot temperatures in a full ostrich costume.

He told the Belfast Telegraph he was inspired by the comedian Bernie Clifton who always took an ostrich puppet on stage.

"He has a lot to answer for, I had to carry him the whole way," he said.

"I'm definitely not doing it again in costume!"

And the good news is that the sunny weather is set to continue for the rest of the week, with temperatures averaging out at around 17C.

A spokesperson from the Met Office said a bout of high pressure is causing the current summery spell.

"It looks like being a dry settled weekend with a good deal of sunshine to come," he explained.

"There may be a little bit of low cloud across parts of Antrim and Down first thing in the morning, but that should burn away.

"It's a dry, bright week.

"Temperatures in general are to stay at around 17 degrees for most days this week, with the warmest parts around the west of Northern Ireland."

He continued: "High pressure has settled at the west of Norway, and once it does we get easterly winds across Northern Ireland.

"There's not a lot of cloud but you get some shelter from northern Scotland."

Without a blanket of cloud at night, it's expected there could also be a touch of ground frost in some rural areas. Temperatures could reach in excess of 16C this week in southern England. However, easterly winds will mostly benefit western regions.

"But we're not looking at anything much higher than that at the moment," said Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge.

He added that an unsettled April could give way to similar conditions in May as despite "drier than average conditions", spells of rain, cloud and damp are likely to push through and break up the sunshine.

However, it should stay generally dry throughout the month, with temperatures in the low 20s displaying "pretty good" conditions for this time of year, Mr Partridge said.

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