News In Depth
Heatwave will continue into weekend
The unseasonably fine and hot weather will continue this weekend, forecasters said.
Sun worshippers flocked to beaches and parks on Thursday as they enjoyed the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching almost 28C (82.4F).
And the warmth will last for several more days, although showers could reach Cornwall by the end of Saturday, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.
Forecaster Gemma Plumb said Friday would be "very warm".
"Most of the UK will be sunny and very warm on Saturday but showers could reach the end of Cornwall by the end of the day," she added.
"Sunday will continue to be dry and sunny although there may be more cloud about."
Saturday should see temperatures of between 24C and 27C, she said, while Sunday is likely to be between 22 and 25C.
Once again Southampton had the highest temperature of 27.9C (82.2F) on Thursday, after also topping the mercury on Wednesday.
The south coast city was closely followed by Wisley in Surrey, where temperatures reached 27.5C (81.5F), while it was 27.3C (81.1F) in Bishopton, near Glasgow.
Barcelona in Spain lagged behind at 25.3C (77.5F).
MeteoGroup said it was warm across much of the UK, with most places between 24 and 28C.
However coastal areas were cooler, especially in the east where it struggled to get above 18C.
Average maximum temperatures for England in May are 14-17C, while Scotland would normally be 13-15C.
The hot weather in London caused a pane of glass at Portcullis House, the £235 million office block used by hundreds of MPs, to shatter.
A Commons spokeswoman blamed "heat exhaustion" for thousands of tiny cracks in the 6ft x 3ft pane in the 11-year-old glass and steel building opposite the Palace of Westminster.
She said: "One of the nodes supporting the glass expanded in the heat and that pushed the glass.
"It has been covered up and we are ensuring that it is blocked off and everyone is safe."
Two workmen in hard hats placed cardboard storage boxes under the shattered pane to soften its fall should it plummet to the ground, as security officers set up a 40ft cordon blocking access between the Members' Centre and the Debate cafe.
In its latest briefing on the drought, which is still affecting much of the South East and eastern England, the Environment Agency said this week had been the driest since the end of March.
Just 2mm (0.08 inches) of rain or less fell in south-eastern England, while 9mm (0.35 inches) was recorded in the North East and North West.
River flows have decreased from high levels seen during weeks of rain and are now normal for the time of year, while the warm sunny weather following the rain has prompted lots of plant growth, which has meant soils are drier than normal.
A number of monitored groundwater supplies have returned to normal or higher levels but eight sites remain "exceptionally low" for this time of year.
National drought co-ordinator Polly Chancellor said: "The recent spell of wet weather restored many river and reservoir levels to normal, reducing pressure on the environment and public water supply.
"But groundwater levels in some areas still remain exceptionally low - so it continues to be important that we all use water wisely, and try to reduce the amount that we use at home and in businesses."
Train companies are gearing up for an increase in passengers of up to 25% in some parts of the country as hundreds of thousands of sunseekers head to seaside resorts and beauty spots this weekend.
Edward Welsh, from the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said: "We are expecting thousands of families and sun-worshippers to pack their buckets and spades, straw hats and sunglasses, and catch the train to seaside resorts.
"For those planning to make the most of the first warm weekend of the summer there are plenty of cheap deals, and many people can get a third off the cost of their journey with a railcard.
"There's no need to get hot and bothered behind the wheel of a car when you can catch the train."