SPRING has definitely sprung in south Essex but this time last year we were battling plunging temparatures and snow. 

High temperatures and sunshine should bathed the south of England at the weekend as the mercury reached 19C (66.2F).

Today's temperatures are set to peak at 13C.

The highest temperature recorded for the UK so far this year was 20.5C (69F) in Gravesend, Kent, last Sunday.

Met Office forecaster Tom Morgan said those in the south should make the most of the sun as "it won't be nearly as warm" this week, though it will still be dry and mild for this time of the year.

Mr Morgan added southern England and Wales would stay dry this week because of "high pressure keeping things settled", but more cloud could be on its way for the south of England.

But there is no such luck for northern England and Northern Ireland and Scotland, with the Met Office predicting cloud and some drizzle for hilly areas across north-west England.

Southend Standard: Snowy scene: The beach at Southend last year

Crowds flocked to south Essex resorts to take advantage of the warm weather.

With winter only officially ending a few weeks ago, visitors were treated to blazing sunshine at the weekend.

Weather experts say temperatures do not normally soar this high during March.

Westcliff and Leigh recorded 16 degrees, according to Essex Weather Centre, with the sunshine ensuring seafronts were buzzing.

The sunshine came as welcome relief to seaside traders after the county suffered some of the wettest weather in recent memory during the winter.

Southend Standard: Busy: Daytrippers enjoying the Southend sunshine today