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While most of spring was spent in lockdown, restrictions relaxed slightly in some parts of the UK

The UK has experienced its sunniest spring since records began in 1929, the Met Office has said.

It is also set to be the driest May on record for some parts of UK, including the driest in England for 124 years.

Some areas are already warning of drought conditions despite exceptionally wet weather and flooding earlier in the year.

But there are no plans for hosepipe bans yet, according to the water industry trade body Water UK.

The UK spent much of spring in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, but thousands flocked to beaches last week to enjoy the sun following a slight easing of restrictions in England.

Only nine springs on record have topped 500 hours of sunshine but, by Wednesday, the UK had clocked up 573 hours.

While the Met Office’s full figures will not be available until Monday, the village of Benson in Oxfordshire is likely to have been the driest place, with “no measurable rain” falling in their rain bucket, BBC Weather meteorologist Matt Taylor said.

Explaining the prolonged sunny weather, he said the jet stream – strong winds driving much of the UK’s variable weather – was largely anchored to the north of the UK during spring. That allowed high pressure to build, whilst the rainy low pressure systems stayed out in the Atlantic.

“Some scientists say these ‘stalled’ weather patterns are a result of climate change and the warming that is taking place in the Arctic region could lead to more extreme weather events in future,” he said.

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Low water levels can be seen in Llwyn-on reservoir in Taf Fawr valley, Wales

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As lockdown restrictions eased slightly in England, day-trippers flocked to sunny beaches

National Farmers’ Union deputy president Stuart Roberts said while water availability was “generally good” at the moment, “it could shape up to be an extremely challenging season for farmers and growers”.

But the spring weather has been good news for strawberry farmers, with 2020 on track to produce one of Britain’s biggest ever crops of fruit.

According to Tesco, the record levels of sunshine have resulted in an estimated 20% increase in strawberry production.

The months of sun followed the wettest February since records began in 1862.

Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge all brought masses of rainfall and flooding to England and Wales.

But some of the rivers that flooded at the time are now running at exceptionally low levels, including the Rivers Lune and Kent in the north-west of England.

Prof Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said the swing from record-breaking wet weather to the months of sunshine was “unprecedented” and “concerning” because it showed how much the UK’s climate was changing.

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