TENS of thousands of visitors packed Bournemouth's beaches yesterday, as the mercury hit 28C.

Electronic signs at Bournemouth Pier were displaying the 'too busy' warning, and most beaches were showing on BCP Council's beach check app as 'avoid' or 'congested' before midday.

By lunchtime many town centre car parks were at full capacity, with surrounding residential roads also jammed up with visitors.

On the M27 and A31 traffic queues of up to 15 miles were reported, as daytrippers flocked to the coast on what was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far.

Today, temperatures are expected to hit 30C at Bournemouth.

Car parks in Sandbanks were so busy, yesterday, they had to be closed by mid-morning, and delays were reported on most roads into the conurbation.

Poole police warned: "Cars can be towed if they are not parked appropriately."

There were also lengthy delays in and out of Purbeck.

Emergency services and council officials will be expecting large visitor numbers today and tomorrow, as heatwave conditions are forecast to continue throughout the weekend.

Yesterday, beachgoers told the Echo why they had made the trip to Bournemouth.

"The numbers for Covid are coming right down," said daytripper Peter Williams. "So it feels a lot safer in outdoor situations for the time being.

"Even though the beach looks packed, when you look closer it is clear families and groups are trying to keep to their own little areas.

"It feels like this is almost like one of the last hurrah's before the inevitable winter spike and lockdown."

Another visitor, who asked not to be named, said: "I'm a Dorset local and I know lots of people will be against scenes like this, packed beaches and packed promenade.

"But if it bothers you, stay away. It is hard, without evidence coronavirus cases are increasing rapidly, to stop people coming to places like this when they have been essentially locked down for so long.

"This is, after all, a holiday town."

However, other town residents say it is too early in the pandemic for any significant mass gatherings.

Meanwhile, a joint statement from councils, police, fire and NHS leaders said measures are in place to cope with any additional demand that could be placed on their services this weekend.