Britain records hottest October day on record

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The record for Britain's hottest October day was broken Saturday as temperatures reached 29.9 degrees Celsius (85.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in Gravesend, southeastern England, the Met Office said.

Britain has been basked in an unseasonal autumn heatwave over the past week, with a southerly wind bringing warm air northwards taking temperatures higher than in Athens, Barcelona and Los Angeles.

Beaches along the southern coast were packed with day-trippers making the most of the good weather.

The previous October record of 29.4C (84.9F) was set on October 1, 1985 in the town of March, eastern England, a spokeswoman for Britain's Met Office national weather service told AFP.

The record for the hottest October day in Wales also fell, with 28.2C (82.8F) reached in the northeastern village of Hawarden, beating the 26.4C (79.5F) set in the nearby town of Ruthin on October 1, 1985.

The hottest day in Britain this year was also set in Gravesend, famous as the resting place of Pocahontas, the Native American whose life was depicted in the eponymous 1995 Walt Disney film.

Temperatures in the town in Kent on the south bank of the River Thames reached 33.1C (91.6F) on June 27.

The British temperature record was also set in north Kent on August 10, 2003, when the town of Faversham saw the mercury hit 38.5C (101.3F).

The Met Office explained why Gravesend is often found to be the hottest place in the kingdom.

"Although all thermometers are housed in standard conditions, the geographical location of the station does still have an impact on the temperatures recorded," the spokeswoman said.

The Gravesend weather station "is surrounded by a built-up industrial area, which could lead to a slightly higher maximum temperature due to factors such as heat being absorbed by buildings".

The Royal Horticultural Society said strawberries and rhodedendrons were among the plants seen blooming at its flagship garden in Surrey, southeast England, when they were not expected to flower again until next spring.

© 2011 AFP

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