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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Britain enjoys mini heat wave
Seeking the shade in Kensington Gardens
Thunder is expected by Wednesday
Britain is enjoying a mini heat wave, with temperatures over much of the country breaking through the 30C barrier.

And the Met Office says temperatures are likely to rise again on Tuesday, with the Midlands basking under clear blue skies and a temperature of 32C.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are also experiencing the warm weather, albeit a few degrees cooler than England, with a high of 27C in Central Scotland.

By Wednesday, however, the hot spell will be interrupted by thunderstorms moving from the west and south west to cover large parts of England and Wales.

Temperatures will then settle down to between 24-25C by the end of the week.

June's figures
A mean temperature of 15.9C - the usual mean is 14.2C
Average rainfall of 65mm fell to 62mm
7.27 hours of sunshine per day,(13% above long-term average)

Sean Clarke, of the Met Office, said: "This is a classic heat wave situation, with very warm air flowing up from the South East.

"July, so far, has been above average in temperature and sunshine, and below average in rainfall.

"The storms are a bit of a hiccup in the hot spell for a large part of the country."

Britain is enjoying the benefits of a high pressure area centred over Scandinavia, drawing in warm air from Russia and further afield.

Stifling levels

Clear skies and sunshine over Britain add to the effect of the warm air mass moving west across Continental Europe.

The heat wave is being shared by much of Europe with Ibiza, Milan, Rhodes and Istanbul all recording 30C. Miami in Florida could only muster 29C.

Temperatures across Europe have reached stifling levels in recent weeks with Switzerland experiencing its hottest June for 250 years and Rome, its hottest month since 1782.

The hottest day recorded so far this year in Britain has been at Shepshed, Leicestershire on 22 June.

The thermometer registered 30.5C.

The hottest day ever recorded in the UK was in August 1990, when Cheltenham sweltered in 37.1C.

Bookies William Hill say they have taken more bets for the UK temperature to reach 100F (38C) this year than at any time since the long, hot summer of 1976.

The company has cut the odds to its shortest ever level of 14/1 - and also offers 7/1 about 99F (about 37C) being reached.

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