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Sun brings temperatures near record
Antony Gormley's Another Place sculpture stands on Crosby Beach, Merseyside, on what is the hottest day of the year so far, and believed to be hotter than in Rio, Brazil, where the World Cup is being held
The top UK temperature today came within a degree of this year's record high, as people across England and Wales enjoyed sizzling sunshine.
The mercury rose to 25.8C (78.4F) at Heathrow this afternoon, just missing the highest recorded temperature of 26.5C (79.7F) last Monday in Essex.
Southern England enjoyed the best of the weather, just topping the temperature in Rio de Janeiro, one of the World Cup's host cities, and beating European hotspots including Berlin and Paris.
But after almost a week of warm weather and humidity, umbrellas may be of use this evening and tomorrow as forecasters predict torrential downpours in some areas.
Cloud and rain will move down from Scotland and the North of England, reaching southern England by tonight, said Steven Keates of the Met Office, which has a yellow weather warning in place from 3pm until midnight.
Aviemore in Scotland saw 0.5in (12mm) of rain fall within one hour today, while up to 0.6in (15mm) is expected in some areas tonight.
After some scattered showers and slightly lower temperatures on Saturday, the week to come looks set to be fine and bright, said Mr Keates.
"Looking ahead there is likely to be a fairly prolonged spell of good weather for most parts of the UK," he said.
While Edinburgh and Belfast failed to break into the twenties today, some of the best weather next week could reach Northern Ireland, it has been predicted.
Mr Keates said: "With high temperatures centred quite close to Northern Ireland, people there could see better temperatures and much of the sunshine, with barely any wind likely."
Laura Caldwell from MeteoGroup added to the bright outlook for next week.
"There is a good chance of there being more warm weather to come in the next seven to 10 days," she said. "The weather looks like it will remain settled and there will be periods of slightly warmer weather than average for the time of year."
England's footballers, who will take to the pitch in Manaus in north west Brazil on Saturday evening, will have to contend with temperatures of between 23C (73.4F) and 29C (84.2F).
Closer to home, health officials have urged people to take care as they enjoy the summer sun.
Public Health England says people should consider staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, to drink plenty of fluids and wear sun cream that is at least factor 15.
It has also asked people to be aware of children and the elderly, to ensure they are not suffering because of the heat.
Dr Angie Bone, head of extreme events at Public Health England, said: "It's nice that the sun is shining and we can all enjoy a taste of summer but it's important to remember that rising heat does bring health risks for some.
"For the time being we recommend that people keep an eye on the weather forecast for the coming days and if it gets hotter consider avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm, drink plenty of fluids and keep an eye out for children and the elderly.
"It's important to make the most of the good weather but equally important that people don't get too much sun or heat and make themselves ill."