23/02/2012 21:06 GMT

UK Weather: Britain Basks In Sunshine For The Warmest Day Of The Year (So Far)

It has been the warmest day of the year so far, with England basking in some early Spring sunshine.

The recent cold snap merely a distant memory for those parts of England experiencing highs of 18C.

As sunshine smiled over London, the Midlands, East Anglia, and south east England all enjoyed unseasonably mild weather.

As of 2.30pm the warmest recorded temperature was 18.7C (65.7F) in Coleshill, Birmingham.

The mercury reached 16C (60.8F) in London but conditions were gloomy in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where temperatures were around 12C (53.6F).

Rachel Vince, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It's unseasonably mild. It's not unheard-of to get these temperatures in February but it doesn't happen every year."

Today is unlikely to set any records - the warmest February day in the UK was in Cambridge in 1891, with a reading of 19.4C (66.9F).

There have also been readings of 18C (64.4F) in 2007 and 17C (62.6F) in 1998.

Ms Vince said: "Today will be the mildest day of the week. This weekend it won't be particularly wet but there will be a lot more cloud."

Maximum temperatures are expected to reach 11C (51.8F) on Saturday and 12C (53.6F) on Sunday.

The 18.7C reading at Coleshill was the highest today, though there were also a few others over 18C, including East Malling in Kent and Santon Downham, Suffolk, which both registered 18.2C.

It was the warmest day of the year so far - and preliminary data suggest that the 18.7 reading was the highest for a February day since 1998, when there was a reading of 19.1C in Somerset.