Temperatures are expected to reach 30C in Britain this weekend, but the warm bank holiday weather is expected to be interrupted by thunderstorms and heavy rain.
Forecasters have issued three weather warnings for rain over the next four days, covering Northern Ireland from 4pm on Friday, the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Saturday, and southern England from lunchtime on Sunday to midday on bank holiday Monday.
Oli Claydon, a Met Office spokesman, said: “The key thing is a lot of the rainfall that’s likely to come over the weekend is showers and some may get it and some may not. It is variable but where those showers do occur they could be quite intense.”
He said the mercury was expected to hit 30C (86F) in northern Scotland on Friday. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous day, there is lots of sunshine around. There is some cloud starting to move into western Northern Ireland but otherwise it is a clear and sunny day for the rest of Great Britain.”
Meanwhile, the early bank holiday getaway was brought to a standstill for many motorists as soaring temperatures led to an increase in breakdowns.
Nearly 300 drivers of overheated vehicles called the AA to be rescued by 3pm on Friday, compared with around 150 on an average day.
Many of the problems for motorists were caused by engines overheating due to a leak in the heating system or very low oil levels, according to the AA.
It also warned that poorly inflated tyres can quickly overheat.
The firm’s patrol of the year, John Snowling, said: “The AA is already receiving higher numbers of calls for help than expected, tyre problems being the greatest cause.
“Patience may be needed because if the road is jammed, then the mobile mechanic coming to help you might well be stuck in the same traffic jam.”
It is expected to be the busiest spring bank holiday weekend for traffic in four years, with the RAC estimated that 16.5 million leisure journeys will be taken between Friday and Monday.
This is 1.2 million more than last year and a rise of nearly 2.5 million on 2015.
Rod Dennis, RAC traffic spokesman, said: “The late Easter has meant there’s been something of a bank holiday bonanza this year, with up to four days off in the space of just six weeks.
“We’re expecting leisure journeys to reach a peak on bank holiday Monday as families set off for a half-term trip or take a day trip to the coast.
“But drivers should be warned that the roads are likely to see significant congestion on Friday as getaway traffic and everyday commuter traffic combines.
“We’re expecting it to be bumper-to-bumper from Friday lunchtime onwards on some of the country’s most popular routes.”
Claydon said temperatures would remain high overnight, and on Saturday the warmest places were likely to be Aviemore, Scotland, (27C) and London (29C).
He said of Sunday’s weather: “If you were to draw a line from the Wash (East Anglia) to the Bristol Channel, anywhere south of that is likely to get fairly intense thundery showers. Not everyone will necessarily see them but where you do see them they will be quite intense.”
In Scotland, Sunday will feel much cooler than recent days as temperatures are expected to dip to highs of 18C.
On Monday, cloud and scattered showers are expected, with temperatures in London around 20-21C. On Tuesday another front is set to move in from the west bringing more cloud and rain.