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These were the unexpected scenes across Britain yesterday as the country prepared to give a particularly warm welcome to 2022.
Temperatures this New Year’s Eve could hit a record 15C (59F) – compared with the average of 7-8C (44-46F).
Incredibly, for many across the country, December 31 is likely to be warmer than Midsummer’s Day on June 21, when temperatures struggled to reach an unseasonably chilly 57F (14C).
And yesterday’s unseasonably toasty weather was enough to tempt out day trippers as far afield as Tynemouth, where children built sandcastles on the beach, to Cambridge, where families enjoyed the traditional summer pastime of punting on the Cam.
Joshua, 6, and Anna, 4, Spedding enjoyed the unseasonable temperatures on Tynemouth beach in North Tyneside
On the River Cam, in Cambridge, people took to the water in punts as a result of the rather clement weather situation
Britain will bathe in warmer than normal weather during the next couple of days although rain is expected on Sunday across much of the south and Wales
In Bournemouth surfers made the most of the waves, while in London jugglers in their shirtsleeves performed on unicycles in Covent Garden. Temperatures in both places were 14C (57F).
DULL DECEMBER AMONG THE LEAST-SUNNY EVER
Despite the record-breaking temperatures, December is set to be one of the dullest in memory, with approximately 27 hours of sunshine – about 14 hours less than usual.
There has been a 38 per cent drop in the national monthly average in sunshine compared with other years – plunging 2021 into to the worst ten since records began.
Weather forecaster Carole Snell told The Telegraph: ‘If things don’t change, then it will probably be up there as possibly one of the ten dullest Decembers across the UK.’
In 1956, there were only 19.5 hours of sunshine while in 2001 there were 64.
The capital could also be the setting for today’s expected record temperature, thanks to sunny spells in the afternoon and less breeze than in previous days.
It’s a far cry from the icy days of 1962, when London and the rest of the country experienced a Big Freeze going into 1963, with temperatures going as low as minus 20C. Pictures taken during what was the coldest winter in Britain since 1740 even showed one enterprising milkman doing his round in Earls Court on skis.
Today’s expected warmer weather will follow one of the dullest months on record, which saw the UK receive less than 27 hours of sunshine – 38 per cent less than the December national average and the lowest December sunlight total since 1956.
The current temperature record for New Year’s Eve was 14.8C (58.6F), which was measured in Colwyn Bay in north Wales ten years ago.
Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said: ‘We’re going to see across the whole of the country temperatures that are above average for this time of year.
‘We’re looking at highs of around 12-14C (53-57F), possibly locally 15C in one or two spots, so it’s going to be well above average.’
The mild temperatures have also contributed to the persistent dull weather, however.
Forecaster Craig Snell of the Met Office said: ‘One of the reasons we’re getting the dull weather is the fact that it’s been so mild. We’re drawing in south-westerly wind from the Atlantic and it’s also drawing in a lot of moisture.’
During the Big Freeze, a blizzard on December 29 and 30 across Wales and south-west England caused snowdrifts nearly 20ft deep, following a white Christmas where nearly a foot of snow fell across southern England.
Photographers were up early in the morning to capture the sunrise over Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland
In Bristol, a couple took an opportunity to spend some time together overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge
In Alderly Edge in Cheshire, roads were flooded following a downpour which caused some inconvenience for motorists
Dozens of people walked along the beach in Tynemouth, North Tyneside enjoying the weather in the final hours of 2021
Forecaster Craig Snell of the Met Office said: ‘One of the reasons we’re getting the dull weather is the fact that it’s been so mild. We’re drawing in south-westerly wind from the Atlantic and it’s also drawing in a lot of moisture’
Despite the warmth, the north of England is facing flood chaos due to heavy rains.
One flood warning in Lostock, Greater Manchester, and 43 flood alerts have been issued across the country today, with the Met Office predicting showers in ‘many areas’ tonight and ‘very mild’ conditions.
In its flood forecast for the next five days, the weather service says: ‘Local flooding from rivers and surface water is possible in parts of Wales and the north of England today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) due to heavy rain.’
The December record for England is 17.7C (63.9F) in 1985, while for the UK as a whole it was 18.7C (65.7F) in 2019 in Scotland.
Flooded fields surround the A1101 in Welnet, Norfolk, this morning after the River Delph burst its banks following the heavy rain. The river levels are expected to rise over the next few days, making the road impassable
Cambridgeshire underwater yesterday as river levels continued to rise and the Environment Agency issued flood alerts for the area. Meanwhile, those ringing in 2022 will see temperatures between 9C (48F) and 14C (57F) at midnight tomorrow
Flooding around Earith in Cambridgeshire on Wednesday morning after the River Great Ouse burst its banks following the recent heavy rain
Parts of Cambridgeshire underwater as river levels continue to rise. In its flood forecast for the next five days, the Met Office says: ‘ Local flooding from rivers and surface water is possible in parts of Wales and the north of England today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday) due to heavy rain’
By Monday and Tuesday, however, there could be ‘some wintry showers on high ground’ such as the North Pennines and rain elsewhere, Mr Miles said.
But the change is also predicted to finally clear some of the cloud, bringing a chance of sunshine – which has been in short supply.
Daytime temperatures will likely take a dramatic plunge – falling to single figures by Tuesday, with highs of 8C (46F) in southern England and just 5C (41F) in the North East.