Today set to be 'warmest of the year' so far as sunshine signals spring has sprung in the North East

A fishing boat under storm clouds out on the North Sea off the north east coast, as today could be one of the warmest days of the year so far with spring just over a week away. Picture from the Press Association, taken this morning.
A fishing boat under storm clouds out on the North Sea off the north east coast, as today could be one of the warmest days of the year so far with spring just over a week away. Picture from the Press Association, taken this morning.

Sunshine, spring flowers, warmer temperatures - it's almost as if spring has arrived in the North East.

The region is finally shedding its winter coat, with sunshine and warmer weather appearing over the weekend - as well as a dose or two of rain.

Some forecasters are even predicting today will be the warmest of the year so far for the UK.

The morning in the North East began bright and chilly with clouds expected later this morning, but most places will remain dry. Sunny spells will develop through the afternoon, with southwesterly winds and a maximum temperature of 12C.

Tonight will remain clear at first, gradually becoming cloudy with some rain and drizzle arriving after midnight - hopefully when we're all in bed, though some eastern places will remain dry.. Freshening winds and a minimum temperature of 4C are forecast.

Tomorrow will be mainly dry and bright, though winds will be rather strong during the afternoon, with maximum temperatures of 4C.

Southerners will see a mild start to the week, with the mercury peaking in the late teens,according to the Met Office.

The warm spell will follow a chilly night for parts of the UK, with an overnight frost affecting parts of northern England, Wales, the Midlands and South West.

Forecaster Marco Petagna said: "We're looking (Monday) at around 16C (61F), with about a 30% chance of getting to 17 or 18C (62-64F) somewhere in the South or South East.

"Even that's just a little bit shy of this year's record, but certainly warm."

Temperatures will have to soar higher than the 18.3C (65F) recorded on February 20 in Northolt, North West London, and Kew Gardens, South West London to become the hottest day of 2017.

While it will be dry and reasonably sunny in the South and South East of the country, towards the North and North West there will be more cloud and the chance of drizzle for the first half of the week.

On Tuesday there could be gales in North and North West Scotland, with gusts of up to 60mph.

Towards the end of the week temperatures will fall but remain just above the average maximum highs for mid March - 8 or 9C (46-48F) in the North and between 9 and 11C (48-52F) in the South.

But Mr Petagna quashed hopes that it could be the hottest March week ever, as thousands of race-goers prepare to descend on Cheltenham.

The forecaster said it was unlikely that the mercury will reach 25.6C (78F) - the highest ever March temperature recorded on March 29 in 1968 in Mepal, Cambridgeshire.

Race-goers can expect a "fair bit of cloud" but will enjoy largely dry conditions, he said.