Spring in the air as mercury rises
It is time to ditch the winter coats and break out the barbecues after a leading retailer reported an 11% increase in online sales of barbecues this week compared with the same period last year.
Ahead of a weekend in which parts of Britain could bask in temperatures of up to 18C (64.4F), John Lewis is bringing out more barbecues in its department stores to fulfil the expected surge in demand.
Sunday is set to be the hottest day of the year so far, with London, East Anglia and the south east set to see the best of the sunshine.
Nicola Gidlow, outdoor living buyer at John Lewis, said: "After a wet and miserable winter it looks as though spring may have arrived earlier than expected.
"Last March we still had snow on the ground across much of the UK, so this year Brits are understandably keen to make the most of the warm weather by getting their grills going."
Forecaster Andy Ratcliffe at MeteoGroup, the weather service provider, said the UK could see the mercury rise as high as 18C on Sunday.
"In England and Wales, it will be a dry day with a fair bit of sunshine tomorrow, and temperatures as high as 18C in London on Sunday.
"Tomorrow across Scotland and Northern Ireland, it will be cloudy with some rain."
The forecaster added the rain would continue in those areas on Sunday as well but temperatures will be in the mid-tens across the UK on Saturday.
"Tomorrow there will be temperature highs of up to 15C (59F) in England and Wales, up to 13C (55F) in Scotland and up to 14C (57F) in Northern Ireland," he said.
The warm weather is set to continue into next week, although Mr Ratcliffe said it would not be as high as Sunday.
He said: "Generally it's going to be a dry week next week with a lot of sunshine but not as high temperatures as Sunday.
"The week will be dry across the UK including Scotland and Northern Ireland, but there could more unsettled weather towards the end of the week in the north west."
Today was the hottest day of the year so far, he added.
MeteoGroup forecaster Tony Conlan said temperatures reached 16.9C (62.4F) in St. James's Park in London.
Yesterday had previously been the hottest for 2014 so far, with temperatures reaching 15.5C (59.9F) in Gravesend, Kent.
The forecaster said it was "quite likely" this temperature would be surpassed on Sunday.