Here comes the sun... followed by the snow

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SCOTLAND got an early taste of summer this weekend with temperatures here being higher than much of Europe, including Cyprus, Athens and Istanbul.

But forecasters warned the temperatures are due to drop again from today, with snow likely in some parts.

Aboyne on Deeside hit 23C, the hottest temperature of the year so far in Scotland and the hottest place in the UK yesterday along with Southampton.

Tain, in Ross and Cromarty, came close on 22C, matching Saturday's top temperatures.

Edinburgh saw a marked improvement from Saturday's 17C to 21C yesterday, while in Glasgow temperatures reached 19C.

Yesterday, much of Scotland enjoyed warmer weather than Cyprus (18C), Athens (16C) and Istanbul, which only managed 11C as thunderstorms swept in.

On Saturday, parts of Scotland saw temperatures ahead of Majorca and Rome, and on a par with Paris and Athens on 22C.

The rest of the UK saw warm temperatures near 20C throughout the weekend, including in London and Birmingham. Yesterday, only Majorca, Madrid and Paris were warmer, at 24C-25C.

Meteorologists said temperatures were up to 8C warmer than the April average in some places following a protracted dry spell.

Sun-worshippers flocked to parks and beaches across the country yesterday as they put the harsh winter behind them.

In Glasgow, families queued for ice creams in Queen's Park, while others chose a summery gin and tonic.

Friends Jenni Kinloch and Ami Anderson sipped away at cans of their favourite tipple to celebrate the 19C temperatures.

"This is fantastic," said Ms Kinloch, 27, a fundraiser with Scottish Ballet. "It's only a couple of weeks ago that we had snow."

Millions of people across the UK took in the mini-heatwave, with supermarkets reporting a massive rise in sales of barbecues. Tesco said it had seen a 100 per cent increase in the number it had sold compared to this time last year.

But the Met Office said the weekend weather set no records for April, and was simply more noticeable for Scots following a long cold winter.

Forecaster Fraser Ralston said: "The whole country has had a cracking weekend. Four factors together caused the weekend: warm air coming up from the south, high pressure, cloud-free skies and low winds.

"It's the first warm spell so it's more noticeable, but we broke no records for April.At least it happened over the weekend, and hopefully it cheered everyone up."

But he added: "The temperatures have been quite high at night, too, but it's all set to end on Monday.

"Glasgow will be down to 12C and Aberdeen 14C, a drop of about eight degrees on today."

There could even be snow on higher ground later in the week.

VisitScotland said it was too early to predict the economic boost from Scots taking to local attractions, but said they hoped it would encourage the "staycation" market.

William Hill is offering odds of 33/1 that the hottest day of 2011 will come in April, with odds of 7/1 that temperatures will top the UK record temperature of 38.5C.