Showers put dampener on Easter
The settled Easter weather is set to come to an abrupt end today as heavy showers and thunder are expected to greet many Britons over the long weekend.
Easter Sunday is expected to be the wettest day of the Bank Holiday period as a band of rain spreads in from the south east of England across central and southern areas.
The south and south west of England will see the wettest conditions with up to an inch of rain falling within a few hours this afternoon, according to the Met Office.
Thunder, lightning and even hail could greet some parts, said Met Office forecaster Charles Powell.
"Most places will see rain across southern counties, including the south-west, Somerset and Wiltshire," said Mr Powell.
"The rainfall will reach 20-30mm in some places, falling in a short period of time of around three to four hours. People in these parts will experience a cold, cloudy and wet afternoon."
It could mean a washout for many people planning outdoor Easter Sunday celebrations after most of the UK has enjoyed a recent spell of warm weather.
Scotland and the northern half of England will see the best of today's weather, remaining dry and hitting temperatures of 17C (62.6F). Northern Ireland is also expected to reach 15C (59F).
Temperatures across the rest of the country are expected to range from 12 to 14C (50-54F) but will feel cooler due to winds today.
Showery unsettled conditions will continue into Bank Holiday Monday and the rest of the week, with wet weather forecast for Tuesday and Thursday, added Mr Powell.
"We've had a dry few weeks, so any rain will be quite noticeable. Last year Easter was very early, around late March when there was snow on the ground and it was cold. Previous Easters were in early April, but there's nothing unusual about this time of year," he said.
Many Easter travellers planning their return journeys home later tonight and tomorrow can expect busy roads, according to the Highways Agency.
An estimated 3.4 million people are taking a holiday in Britain this Easter, with the road networks reaching their busiest period on Friday and Easter Monday.
Jennifer Hart, from the Highways Agency said: "We are predicting that Easter Monday afternoon will be busier than usual as people head back on the main holiday routes home."
"Saturday and Sunday have been relatively quiet and we've seen no incidents. Seven out of ten road works have been lifted to leave 98% of the road network free."
As well as those having trips involving at least an overnight stay, an estimated 6.5 million Britons are likely to take day trips over the holiday.
Travellers will hope to avoid the chaos that greeted Eurostar passengers on Thursday when 10 trains from London to the continent were cancelled following a broken down Eurotunnel passenger shuttle in the Channel Tunnel.