Britons hit road to soak up 70F sun over bank holiday but face traffic hell of 22m car journeys

The big bank holiday GRIDLOCK begins! Britons hit the road for three-day break with sun and showers to look forward to… after battling traffic hell with 22m journeys expected this weekend

  • The RAC is warning of the worst bank holiday weekend traffic to hit the roads in six years as getaway begins
  • Motoring experts are expecting eight million more journeys this bank holiday weekend compared to last year
  • Temperatures are expected to be good with England, Wales and eastern Scotland set to enjoy some sunshine
  • **Are YOU stuck in traffic this afternoon? Let us know. Get in touch using james.wood@mailonline.co.uk** 

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Britons are hitting the roads in their millions today as the bank holiday weekend gets underway, with motoring experts predicting eight million more journeys compared to last year.

Despite the travel chaos, forecasters are predicting generally favourable weather with England, Wales and eastern Scotland set to enjoy plenty of sunshine and temperatures of up to 70F (21C).  

Those hoping to make the most of the weather however, will have to contend with some the worst bank holiday weekend traffic to hit the roads in six years – according to the RAC. 

It is warning that 22 million car journeys are expected with people set to make the most of a pleasant bank holiday weekend – although forecasters have warned of showers in some areas.

The roads are busy today (pictured is the A14 near Cambridge this morning), as millions of Britons begin their weekend getaway early. The RAC is warning that 22 million car journeys are expected with people set to make the most of a pleasant bank holiday weekend

The RAC is warning that 22 million car journeys are expected with people set to make the most of a pleasant bank holiday weekend - although forecasters have warned of showers in some areas (pictured is the A14 near Cambridge this morning)

The RAC is warning that 22 million car journeys are expected with people set to make the most of a pleasant bank holiday weekend – although forecasters have warned of showers in some areas (pictured is the A14 near Cambridge this morning)

Severe traffic congestion and rail closures are expected to hamper the weekend getaway. Traffic is pictured building up on the A14 near Cambridge today

Severe traffic congestion and rail closures are expected to hamper the weekend getaway. Traffic is pictured building up on the A14 near Cambridge today

Britain continues to enjoy a period of warm weather (pictured are the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury), with the pleasant temperatures expected to continue over the three-day break. Although fresher temperatures are expected on the Monday

Britain continues to enjoy a period of warm weather (pictured are the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury), with the pleasant temperatures expected to continue over the three-day break. Although fresher temperatures are expected on the Monday

A man enjoys some shade in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury as Britain continues to enjoy a period of warm weather. Pleasant temperatures are expected to continue into the weekend

A man enjoys some shade in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury as Britain continues to enjoy a period of warm weather. Pleasant temperatures are expected to continue into the weekend

A couple make the most of the warm weather this afternoon, taking a break on a bench at Goring on Thames in Oxfordshire. Warm sunny periods are expected again tomorrow, with only a slight chance of showers in the south

A couple make the most of the warm weather this afternoon, taking a break on a bench at Goring on Thames in Oxfordshire. Warm sunny periods are expected again tomorrow, with only a slight chance of showers in the south

The Met Office is predicting generally favourable weather over the bank holiday weekend (Saturday is pictured)

Although there is expected to be some rain in northern parts of the country. As we move into Sunday this is expected to become more likely (pictured)

The Met Office is predicting generally favourable weather over the bank holiday weekend (Saturday and Sunday are pictured). Although there is expected to be some rain in northern parts of the country

Motoring experts expect eight million more journeys this bank holiday weekend compared to last year, and predict problems tomorrow afternoon when people going on short breaks clash with normal work-related journeys. 

Getaways will peak on Saturday with an estimated 6.6million trips planned, up from 3.8million last year, followed by bank holiday Monday with 5.6million, up from 2.9million, and tomorrow with 5.3million, up from 4.5million.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Chris Bulmer said: ‘This upcoming bank holiday weekend will start off fine and warm with sunny spells in the south, but for northern parts of the UK it’ll be cooler, cloudier and breezy with some rain at times.

‘At the moment Saturday looks to be one of the better days of the weekend with the promise of sunshine for most, whereas Sunday will be cloudier with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west.

‘By Monday this rain and cloud should clear with a return to sunny spells and the odd shower in places, feeling cooler across the country in the fresh westerly breeze.’ 

The weather over the bank holiday weekend is pictured, showing how showers are set to increase over the three-day break. These will likely be more severe in Scotland, but southern England will also see some on Monday

The weather over the bank holiday weekend is pictured, showing how showers are set to increase over the three-day break. These will likely be more severe in Scotland, but southern England will also see some on Monday

The long weekend will start with warm temperatures for most, hitting around 73F (23C) in southern parts of England (pictured)

On Sunday however, a cold front will push southeastwards turning temperatures a little colder (pictured)

The long weekend will start with warm temperatures for most, hitting around 73F (23C) in southern parts of England (left). On Sunday however, a cold front will push southeastwards turning temperatures a little colder (right)

The bank holiday weekend is set to get off to a warm start, with many likely visit tourist spots across the country to make the most of the warm weather. Pictured are punters enjoying the weather in Westgate Gardens, Canterbury today

The bank holiday weekend is set to get off to a warm start, with many likely visit tourist spots across the country to make the most of the warm weather. Pictured are punters enjoying the weather in Westgate Gardens, Canterbury today

Many are making the most of the warm spring weather, taking to the scenic spots around Britain. Pictures are the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury today, likely to be popular with sun-seekers tomorrow

Many are making the most of the warm spring weather, taking to the scenic spots around Britain. Pictures are the Westgate Gardens in Canterbury today, likely to be popular with sun-seekers tomorrow

The bank holiday weekend is set to get off to a warm start (pictured is Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire this afternoon), continuing the trend set towards the latter stages of this week

The bank holiday weekend is set to get off to a warm start (pictured is Goring on Thames, Oxfordshire this afternoon), continuing the trend set towards the latter stages of this week

Canal walks are a popular activity when the sun is shining, and Goring on Thames residents certainly made the most of the warmer weather this afternoon with a stroll along the bank

Canal walks are a popular activity when the sun is shining, and Goring on Thames residents certainly made the most of the warmer weather this afternoon with a stroll along the bank

Grass pollen levels are moderate today, while UV levels will be high in the sunshine (pictured). Similar levels are expected over the bank holiday weekend

Moderate pollen levels are expected over the bank holiday weekend. Pictured are pollen levels today

Grass pollen levels are moderate today (right), while UV levels will be high in the sunshine (left). Similar levels are expected over the bank holiday weekend

Met Office chief meteorologist Tony Wardle also warned of potential showers as the weekend progresses, saying: ‘There’s plenty of dry and sunny weather in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, with temperatures reaching into the low 20s Celsius for many across central and southern parts of the UK. 

‘Not everywhere will be dry and warm though, with cloud and rain in northern Scotland on Friday and further rain arriving in Scotland and Northern Ireland later on Saturday.

‘With the high temperatures this weekend there’s also the chance of one or two showers popping up in places, especially in the southeast on Saturday, so keep an eye on the latest Met Office forecast if you’ve got outdoor plans this weekend.’

When are the worst times to travel this bank holiday weekend?  

Friday, May 24

Expected leisure journeys: 5.6m 

Worst time to travel: 4pm and 7pm

Saturday, May 25

Expected leisure journeys: 6.6m 

Worst time to travel: 10am and 3pm

Sunday, May 26 

Expected leisure journeys: 5m

Worst time to travel: 10am and 3pm

Monday, May 27

Expected leisure journeys: 5.3m 

Worst time to travel: 12pm and 4pm 

As we move into half term, showers are also expected – although temperatures won’t dip too drastically. They are predicted to move from around 68F (20C) to around 59 to 61F (15 to 16C).  

Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge told MailOnline: ‘The picture during half term is going to be much wetter than the start of June, when temperatures are expected to get a little warmer. 

‘During the upcoming break temperatures will be mostly just below average, with showers expected in England and Wales. Scotland are expected to see the majority of these.’ 

But those enjoying a break at home will be able to enjoy some relatively pleasant temperatures this weekend, and towards the beginning of the week.  

On Saturday, a frontal system will edge across northern Britain from the west, bringing patchy rain, although forecasters say that elsewhere it is expected to remain mostly dry with some sunny spells.

Increasingly persistent rain will then push east across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England overnight, while persistent rain will continue across Scotland for much of Sunday, although most of England will stay dry.

Much of the next few days will be determined by the impact on Britain of stormy weather across North America, which has included tornadoes in the mid-west affecting the upper atmosphere.

This is having an effect on the jet stream, a fast-flowing current of air high in the sky which dictates the flow of low pressure weather systems across the Atlantic towards Europe.

The jet stream will be pointed towards Britain by Saturday, which normally means more cloud, rain and cooler conditions in summer – but high pressure will still be relatively close, so it will not be a washout.

People sunbathe on the beach at Brighton in East Sussex yesterday as temperatures remain high for much of the country

People sunbathe on the beach at Brighton in East Sussex yesterday as temperatures remain high for much of the country

Two people go for a walk along the promenade at Brighton yesterday as the country experiences above-average temperatures

Two people go for a walk along the promenade at Brighton yesterday as the country experiences above-average temperatures

A man sunbathes on the pebbled beach at Brighton yesterday amid the warm weather conditions in southern England

A man sunbathes on the pebbled beach at Brighton yesterday amid the warm weather conditions in southern England

Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: ‘This time last year we were forecasting a sizzling bank holiday weekend with the jet stream well to the north of the UK. Somewhat different this year though.

‘The jet stream through the upcoming weekend actually dives south this weekend, but it won’t be a washout weekend by any means. There will be some showers around, but many places will be dry for much of the time.’

The hottest temperature of the year so far – which is unlikely to be beaten this weekend – has been 78.4F (25.8C), recorded at Treknow in Cornwall on April 19 and again on May 15 at Kinlochewe in the Scottish Highlands.

One month ago Britain was bathed in a record heatwave at Easter, with Easter Monday proving to be the hottest on record with 77F (25C) recorded at Heathrow and Northolt in West London and Wisley in Surrey.

The highest temperature for the late May bank holiday was 91F (32.8C) in Horsham, West Sussex, on May 29, 1944. Meterological summer begins on June 1, and the UK daytime average for the time of year is around 61F (16C).

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