EXTREME weather combined with a boost in social media use led to a record-breaking 7.5 million hits on the Daily Echo’s website in January – with 820,989 readers.

Flooding blighted much of the area throughout the month and readers took to Facebook and Twitter to share their snaps of the chaos like never before.

Three of the top five most read stories were about weather and bournemouthecho.co.uk website assistant Sarah Cartlidge credited readers contributing their own pictures and live blogs being continually updated.

She said: "Everything is a lot more immediate now.”

More than 400,000 visits made the flooding gallery the most popular ever, which featured images of locations across the area submerged by water.

Reporters and photographers were on the scene of breaking news stories across the county, bringing readers as-it-happened information, pictures and video.

The most read story of the month had 94,440 hits, with almost 70,000 of these coming from Facebook, in a month when 291,611 referrals via the world’s largest social network broke another Echo record.

Toby Granville group editor, said: “I’d like to thank every one of the 820,989 readers who visited our website in January and made it an amazing record-breaking month.

“More and more readers are visiting our website because our talented team of journalists are producing the very best exclusives – as well as reporting the big breaking stories online live from the scene all around the county.”