Portsmouth set for a sunny weekend

Undated handout photo issued by Waitrose of some strawberries, as the first English strawberries of the year will appear on supermarket shelves this weekend after the sunniest winter in nearly 90 years. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 5, 2015. Waitrose will take delivery of the first berries to have ripened in glasshouses in West Sussex on the south coast by grower Harry Hall. The Met Office said provisional statistics show that the UK has had its sunniest winter in records dating back to 1929. See PA story CONSUMER Strawberries. Photo credit should read: Tara Fisher/Waitrose/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. CONSUMER_Strawberries_082353.JPG
Undated handout photo issued by Waitrose of some strawberries, as the first English strawberries of the year will appear on supermarket shelves this weekend after the sunniest winter in nearly 90 years. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday March 5, 2015. Waitrose will take delivery of the first berries to have ripened in glasshouses in West Sussex on the south coast by grower Harry Hall. The Met Office said provisional statistics show that the UK has had its sunniest winter in records dating back to 1929. See PA story CONSUMER Strawberries. Photo credit should read: Tara Fisher/Waitrose/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. CONSUMER_Strawberries_082353.JPG
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Portsmouth is set for a sunny Saturday and Sunday as the UK prepares to enjoy its warmest weekend of the year.

But although temperatures are expected to reach 11C, they are unlikely top those in London or even Eastern Scotland, where the mercury is set to soar to 17C.

A Met Office spokesman predicted a “marked change” on Saturday as spring finally gets under way after a chilly week.

It means temperatures could be higher than in Istanbul and Corfu this weekend.

The Met Office’s Simon Partridge said: “We are going to have some milder conditions and there will be a marked change with spring temperatures from Saturday.

“We have been there already but not for a while. The most recent highest temperature was at Exeter Airport. It was 16.5C (62F) on the ninth of January.

“The mild weather is coming in the from the South West, which originated in the Caribbean area and across the Atlantic.

“Moray in north-eastern Scotland is looking to be the warmest part of the country due to the shelter from the Scottish Highlands. It will probably be about 15C (59F) but there is an outside chance of it reaching the high 16s or 17C (63F).

“In London you are looking at 15C (59F) for this weekend so it’s going to be pretty mild with spring conditions there.

“It will be less mild in the north of England with temperatures around 11C (52F) or 12C (54F) in Liverpool and Manchester, though there is an outside chance of it reaching 13C (55F).

“If you go further east the high ground will break that cold and temperatures could be around 15C (59F) in the South East.”

The North East and South West should see temperatures of around 13C (55F), but in Wales clouds and stronger winds mean it is unlikely to exceed 12C (54F), Mr Partridge said.

He added: “It’s going to be a marked change and people will feel the difference. In some parts of the country people are going to be having a very pleasant day compared to the weather in the last few weeks.”

The average mean temperature is 6-8C (43-46F) in the north of the UK and 5-6C (41-43F) in the south, he said.

And the first English strawberries of the year will appear on supermarket shelves this weekend after the sunniest winter in nearly 90 years.

Waitrose will take delivery of the first berries to have ripened in glasshouses in West Sussex on the south coast by grower Harry Hall.

The Met Office said provisional statistics show that the UK has had its sunniest winter in records dating back to 1929.

Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said the first strawberries had appeared slightly earlier than last year because of the high levels of sunshine.

“The light levels have been very high, which has helped bring the season forward a few days,” he said.

Mr Olins said the earliest strawberries were a specialist crop grown in glasshouses by fewer than 10 suppliers.

The main outdoor crop starts at the end of April or early May and usually continues until the weather cools in October.

He understood just a few pounds would be harvested by this weekend, but that would turn into “a handful of tonnes” by next week.

In the British winter, imported strawberries come from Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Israel.

Waitrose’s strawberry buyer Nicki Baggott said: “The arrival of English strawberries heralds the start of an early summer in kitchens across the country, as those pining for sunshine start preparing summery dishes such as Eton mess and strawberries and cream.”