Beach crowds told to 'head home' after thousands descend on hottest day of the year
31 July 2020, 18:58 | Updated: 31 July 2020, 18:59
Police were forced to patrol beaches in Bournemouth, Poole and Edinburgh after thousands descended on the seafronts on the hottest day of the year so far.
A mobile app designed to aid social distancing on beaches was already showing red - meaning social distancing is not possible - by 9am in three areas along the south coast.
By mid afternoon, nearly all of the seven-mile stretch of beach between Poole Harbour and Highcliffe was marked as red on Dorset council's beach app.
It comes just a month after a "major incident" was declared in Bournemouth because of crowding on the beach.
Concerns have also been raised about the number of people in Brighton after Brighton and Hove council said the number of people was making it "impossible to maintain physical distancing".
Thanet District Council, in Kent, also said that there were concerns over social distancing on some of its most popular beaches, which are completely full.
Earlier today the mercury reached 37.8C (100.04F) at Heathrow, making it the third hottest day ever recorded in the UK.
In Dorset, police have been made to work longer shifts and come in on their days off to deal with the large numbers of people flocking to beaches.
By 11am, traffic marshals had to force people to turn around from Sandbanks car park. Residents are also urging the council to close the road.
Dorset Council said car parks at Lulworth and Durdle Door were also full and urged visitors to go elsewhere.
Brighton Council has asked anyone not already in the city not to travel there today, while police are reportedly preparing to block off roads in Bournemouth.
A sign at the entrance to the beach in Bournemouth warned visitors to "head home".
All car parks by the seafront have been full since 10am, with traffic snaking back 15 miles along two A-roads heading into the area.
A council spokesperson said: ‘Traffic levels remain high but are still moving. This is in line with what we would expect on a normal summer’s day. We will continue to monitor the situation closely."
On Edinburgh’s Portobello beach, hundreds crowded onto the sand, with little sign of social distancing in place.
The Met Office's "yellow warning" is valid from 4pm until midnight across large parts of east and south-east England where the weather will be at its hottest.
This includes chances of gusty winds, hail and "frequent lightning strikes" which could cause slight damage to buildings.
The Met said that, although a large amount of rain is unlikely, some places may experience heavy downpours and receive as much as 15-20 mm of rain in less than an hour.
The storms will be caused by hot air moving in from mainland Europe, some parts of which will be cooler than the UK.
Popular tourist spots on the continent including Ibiza, Lisbon and Berlin are expected to reach 33C (91.4F), 30C (86F) and 25C (77F) respectively, compared to areas of Kent and Cambridgeshire where the mercury will rise to around 33-34C (93.2F).
The thunderstorms will quickly be followed by cooler weather caused by a front moving in from the West, dashing any chances of a UK heatwave.
The Met said the front will result in temperature drops of up to 10C overnight with highs of 26C (78.8F) and 21C (69.8F) in London and Manchester respectively, on Saturday.
The short spike of hot weather comes at the end of a below average July temperature-wise.