UK records warmest March day in 53 years with 24.5C temperatures

More warm weather predicted before mercury dips in time for Easter weekend

People enjoy Greenwich park in near-record spring temperatures. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

The UK recorded its warmest March day in 53 years on Tuesday as temperatures rose above 24C, with the Met Office predicting they could get close to the all-time record on Wednesday.

The mercury peaked at 24.5C at Kew Gardens in west London on Tuesday – slightly below the UK’s hottest March temperature of 25.6C in Cambridgeshire in 1968.

Alex Burkill, a Met Office forecaster, said Tuesday’s figure was “exceptionally high for the time of year”, adding: “Temperatures could be a touch higher tomorrow than they were today. Whether it will beat the 25.6C, I’m not so sure … It’s a possibility.”

Steve Ramsdale, the Met Office’s chief meteorologist, said: “The UK will see a few days of notably warm weather to the end March … There will also be plenty of sunshine across England and Wales; however, parts of Scotland will see some persistent rain over the next couple of days.

“Conditions will start to change through the day on Thursday as cooler air moves in from the north-east. Highs will fall to the mid-teens before falling further by Friday, especially along the east coast.”

People have been urged not take advantage of the warm weather by gathering in large crowds or taking trips.

In Nottingham, dispersal orders from the police were put in place after crowds of people got together in a city park, with footage on social media showing many not adhering to social distancing rules. David Mellen, the leader of Nottingham city council, said that a “selfish minority had abused the easing of restrictions”.

Meanwhile, in Cornwall, tourist companies were warning people not to travel to the area just yet to take advantage of the sunshine.

Sally Everton, the director of Visit Devon, encouraged residents to report anyone visiting the area in breach of the coronavirus rules, saying: “If you know there’s somebody in their second home or there’s an Airbnb that has been occupied, we’d encourage them to report it to the police.”