Today has been provisionally recorded as the hottest day of the year so far in all four UK nations, with Northern Ireland reaching the highest temperature ever recorded, the Met Office has said.
Ballywatticock, in County Down, Northern Ireland, has reached 31.2C, recorded at around 3.40pm.
Previously, 30.8C was the highest temperature recorded in Northern Ireland, reached on 12 July 1983 and 30 June 1976, the Met Office said.
The temperature at Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, England was recorded as 30.7C, although temperatures could rise further this afternoon.
Usk, in Monmouthshire, Wales, reached 29C, and 28.2C was recorded in Threave, in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.
The heatwave will spell the end of the prolonged severe wet weather that caused flooding across parts of the country earlier this week.
Sunday is expected to be the hottest day of the year so far, as a result of an “Azores high”, also known as the “Bermuda high”.
This is when the UK is set to be hotter than Crete, Turkey, Sicily, Gibraltar and parts of Spain and Portugal – according to a BBC forecast.
The mini-heatwave is due to last until at least Monday – the day dubbed “freedom day” – when the government is expected to lift the last of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Andy Page, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The extension of the Azores high is the principal reason behind the UK’s current weather pattern, which will see much of the UK reach heatwave thresholds over the weekend and into early next week.
“High temperatures will remain in the forecast well into next week, but there’s a risk of isolated heavy showers in the south of the UK on Monday and Tuesday, although it should be largely fine for most areas.”
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said that temperatures are expected to exceed 30C.
He added: “31C, 32C wouldn’t be out of the question”.
Sunday would be “A hot day, the hottest day of the year so far, the hottest weekend of the year so far,” Mr McGivern added.
The baking hot weather has prompted warnings from Public Health England (PHE) for people to keep themselves cool.
UV rays are at their greatest between 11am and 3pm, PHE’s guidance states, so those at risk of heat stroke should ensure they are in the shade or indoors between those hours.
Other advice is to wear a hat, apply sunscreen and avoid physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day.
A health alert has been issued in England with high temperatures predicted to be “widespread across the bulk of Britain” from the end of the week and through the weekend.
The alert, which covers England – excluding parts of the North East, North West and London – is due to last until Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Press Association