Locked out: UK records sunniest month on record in May

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People on the beach at Durdle Door, as the public are being reminded to practice social distancing following the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, near Lulworth in Dorset, England, Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)

LONDON – Britain’s national weather agency has confirmed what most people cooped up at home during the coronavirus lockdown may have guessed — May was the sunniest month on record.

The Met Office said Monday that there were 266 hours of sunshine during the month, beating the previous record of June 1957 by one hour. Records go back to 1929.

The forecaster also said that May was the driest May in England on record, and the second driest in Wales, in a rainfall series that goes even further back, to 1862.

Overall, it has been the sunniest spring on record for the U.K. and the fifth driest — perhaps all the more remarkable given that the country had just experienced its fifth wettest winter.

The warm and dry weather has raised concerns over whether it may make a potential second spike in the country’s coronavirus outbreak more likely, especially now that all four U.K. nations — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have started easing some of the lockdown restrictions, albeit at different speeds.

Over the weekend, beaches and parks were packed with many people clearly not observing social distancing guidelines to stay 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) apart.

Chaotic scenes at beaches on the Jurassic Coast in southern England, which saw three people seriously injured after jumping off cliffs into the sea, prompted a local leader to call for stricter travel rules.

Vikki Slade, the leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, has written to lawmakers and Dorset Police after the weekend incidents, including at the limestone arch of Durdle Door.