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Mini-heatwave due for the weekend

The mini-heatwave is set to continue with fine sunny weather forecast across virtually all of the UK this weekend.

Thursday's warm weather in London and the South should continue right through to Sunday, when temperatures of 21 degrees C (69.8F) are predicted.

And the mercury could hit 20 degrees C (68F) at Loch Ness and the Highlands of Scotland on Saturday, according to Paul Knightley, senior forecaster at MeteoGroup UK, the Press Association's weather division.

The forecast for the weekend is so good that the RSPCA has issued a warning to pet owners reminding them of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, conservatories or caravans.

Thursday's weather showed a strong north-south divide, as a band of cloud across the centre of the UK separated summery southern sunshine from colder northern climes.

London and the Home Countries basked in warm sunshine for the second day running. Temperatures were slightly cooler than Wednesday, but by mid afternoon had already reached 22 degrees C (71.6F) in Gatwick, West Sussex, and Charlwood, Surrey.

This equalled the highest recorded April 7 of 22 degrees C (71.6F) - recorded in Achnashellach, in the Highlands of Scotland, in 1974.

Despite "reasonably strong sunshine across northern parts of England" and up to north east Scotland, temperatures were significantly cooler.

It was around 12-13 degrees C (53.6-55.4F) in Cumbria and similar in Merseyside, with a few spots of rain during a grey morning at Aintree before conditions improved later.

By Friday the big area of high pressure should move in, covering "virtually all of the UK" and bringing with it a "fine day with spells of sunshine". Temperatures of 17-18 (62.6-64.4F) degrees C should be fairly widespread with 19-20 degrees C in the south.

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