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Risk of thunderstorms after UK records hottest day of the year so far

The mercury reached 28.2C at Santon Downham in Suffolk on Wednesday.

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Beach huts on Boscombe beach in Dorset (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Beach huts on Boscombe beach in Dorset (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Beach huts on Boscombe beach in Dorset (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Heavy rain and gusty winds could hit parts of the country on Thursday after sun-seekers enjoyed the hottest day of the year so far.

The mercury reached 28.2C at Santon Downham in Suffolk on Wednesday, when the public packed out parks and beaches to enjoy newfound freedom following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

It was the hottest day of the year so far – beating a top temperature set just the day before, when London’s St James’s Park recorded a high of 26.2C.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Although many will still experience warm conditions on Thursday, western parts of the UK could receive patchy rain which will push towards the north-east.

Elsewhere, Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said there was a risk of thunderstorms across the south east of England.

Heavy rain and gusty winds should generally clear by the afternoon, he added, leading to sunny spells and the potential for temperatures to reach 27C across south east England.

Balmy conditions have tested the nation’s resolve in maintaining social distancing in parks and open spaces.

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A sign saying ‘please keep two metres apart’ on Bournemouth Pier (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

A sign saying ‘please keep two metres apart’ on Bournemouth Pier (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

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A sign saying ‘please keep two metres apart’ on Bournemouth Pier (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

On Wednesday, police in North Devon said roads to the area’s beaches were “gridlocked” despite pleas to the public from councils who advise against travelling to the south west.

Officers in Ilfracombe and Braunton said they had identified vehicles from “all over the country” in the local area, where toilets and other amenities remain closed.

One officer said “valuable resources” were being used to marshal traffic, adding that elderly people in the area would be “very anxious over the selfish actions of these individuals”.

A slight easing of restrictions in England means people can drive to beaches and countryside beauty spots, where they are allowed to picnic and sunbathe.

But in response to the relaxation of measures, leaders in Devon and Cornwall warned second home owners and tourists to “think twice” about visiting the region.

Councils and tourism bodies encouraged people not to travel more than an hour from their local area to enjoy the outdoors and to avoid popular tourist locations, as the region’s car parks, toilets and hotspots remain closed.

Temperatures are expected to cool on Friday, according to the Met Office.

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People enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

People enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

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People enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

“A deep area of low pressure moves in from the Atlantic and skirts the north-west of the UK, likely to bring strong winds across the country on Friday,” Mr Dewhurt said.

“A band of heavy rain will push eastwards through the morning, which will then clear to sunshine and showers.”

Winds will be strongest across the north-west of the UK, where gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour are likely, and temperatures should drop to normal for this time of year, at around 16C to 18C.

Mr Dewhurst predicted a windy start to the weekend with sunshine and showers for many, with the weather gradually turning drier from the south on Sunday and into bank holiday Monday.

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