Here comes the summer! People enjoy May Bank Holiday in Preston as heatwave soars
Preston basked in the hottest day of the year so far yesterday - as the city came back into life after a miserable May.
The city had a spring in its step thanks to the weather, with Avenham Park a bustling hive of activity - and the good news is there is more sunny weather to come this week.
As pub gardens filled up and people packed onto the city’s parks to soak up the sun with an ice cream in hand, it was hard to believe that, just a few months ago, Preston was deserted because of strict lockdown measures preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Business owners, town councillors, and residents alike are now looking forward to a hopeful return of sunnier weather over the coming months, with the prospect of complete end to lockdown restrictions in sight.
Mark O’Rourke, who owns six food and drink venues across Preston, including the Winckley Street Ale House and Fino Tapas, said: “Since we have been able to reopen, it has been really positive.
“With the number of bookings and customers, we have had it feels like we are almost fully back to normal again.
“Realistically, we need everywhere to be staying open now because going into any more lockdowns would be too difficult for so many businesses. People are back out supporting us again and that needs to continue.
“On days like today when the weather is like this, we could’ve managed with the outside seating restrictions because everyone wants to be able to sit outside. In reality, as nice as this is, we don’t get weather like this for three months straight and when it was raining and cold, we struggled with outdoor bookings and even had to close because it was so difficult.
“I just want everywhere to stay open now, we have been closed for six months and had a really difficult year, businesses need to get back on their feet.”
The glorious Bank Holiday Monday weather came hot on the heels of two days of balmy weather over the long weekend, which sent Prestonians flocking to parks and beaches as well as pubs and restaurants now that some Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Mark Whittle, manager of Preston BID said: "The weather has really helped trade, which is a huge positive. Things have gone well since the re-opening dates in April and May, but nice weather makes all the difference in encouraging people to head to town and spend longer there.
"Businesses have had a tough time, as have many people over the last year, so it is good to see some of life's simple pleasures being available for people to enjoy.
"As always, we offer our continued thanks for the support of local people, it means a great deal."
And city centre councillor Salim Desai also spoke of his support for businesses who were revelling in the heatwave, but reminded sun worshippers of the cases of Indian variant present in neighbouring towns, adding: "I'm pleased to see the high footfall in the City Centre and the Parks. The public is taking full advantage of their freedoms.
"I have a slight doubt in relation to the Indian Covid variant considering how close Bolton and Blackburn are and also the recent isolation cases in local schools.
"We need to ensure we take all minimum precautions as we need to control Preston's infection rates. This is under close scrutiny."
But if a new benchmark for the year was set, it is not expected to last for long, as temperatures are expected to climb to 27C (80.6F) on Wednesday before cooler, fresher air moves in.
And the Met Office warns there could be some thunderstorms on the way.
“There will potentially be some thunderstorms by midweek, the first bout of showers will come into parts of the South West and there will be a few thunderstorms in that,” said Nikki Mitchell, Met Office forecaster.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty but with the warm and humid weather we are having we have the key ingredients for thunder storms.
“The warmer weather will stick around until at least Thursday in most places, that’s when we could get some slightly fresher air coming in.”
Although a fine bank holiday is rare, the temperatures are not unusual for the time of year, with the mercury usually sitting in the high teens and low 20s by late May. May has been the fourth wettest on record for the UK, and the wettest ever for Wales.
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