Scotland could be on track for its hottest year on record, with a 31C “blowtorch” summer predicted by weather forecasters.
Despite showers and blustery conditions hitting much of the country this week, the Met Office expects a warmer spell by the weekend, with consistent warm weather from mid-June.
Climate researchers also say there is an “increased” risk of heatwaves this summer.
Scotland has been hotter than normal in all five months from January to May this year.
2017’s temperature has been 1.2C degrees above average, putting the year on course for a temperature across the whole year above Scotland’s 7.4 degrees annual average – a record 8.6C.
Scotland’s hottest year since records began in 1910 is 2014’s 8.45C, Met Office records show.
Unusually dry southerly winds have boosted Scotland’s temperatures this year. On May 26, Lossiemouth in Moray recorded a Scottish high of 29.4C.
Weather experts said that July temperatures could reach 31C in many parts of the country.
The Met Office also favours hotter-than-normal conditions over the summer months.
Government weather forecast models expect above-average temperatures from August until the start of November.
Forecasters said that wetter conditions will also hit at times this summer.
A Met Office forecaster said: “Later in the week, temperatures will widely be above average. After June 18, temperatures are most likely to be above average.”
Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: “June could well see spells of warmer days mixed in with changeable conditions.”
The Weather Outlook forecaster Brian Gaze said: “31C highs in Scotland would not be a surprise ahead.
“A ‘blowtorch’ pattern with several shots of hot air from southern Europe is expected.”
Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said: “Given the very warm temperatures this year so far and the forecast ahead, 2017 is on course for the UK’s warmest year on record.
“The risk of heatwaves this summer has increased, with above-average temperatures every month suggesting warmer temperatures are part of a trend.”
The Met Office’s Ms Sharples added: “All months this year have been warmer than average.”