TRADERS in Weymouth have hailed a ‘great start to the season’ as temperatures soared over the weekend.

Dorset glowed in day-long sunshine with temperatures nudging towards 20C yesterday and hordes of people headed to the beach.

But a year makes all the difference as this time last March saw freezing conditions and even snow in Dorset.

The county was shivering under a blanket of snow as cold winds from the north swept in. Motorists were warned to drive carefully amid icy roads and poor visibility.

But beach businesses said the sunshine this year had given a much-needed boost to trade.

It follows months of storms which lashed the Dorset coastline.

Ciaron Telford, of Weldon Family Amusements, said: “It’s good to see the sunshine so early this year because it does put a smile on people’s faces. I hope it stays.”

Dave Abbott, of Napoli on the Beach, said: “It is really wonderful, considering all the bad weather we’ve had recently.

“I think people have been so fed up being stuck indoors all winter that at the first lovely spring day, they all head down to the beach.”

And Clifford Bennett, of Andy’s Kiosk, added: “The sun is always very good for business.

“It’s so nice to see everyone out enjoying themselves. It’s been a great start to the season.”

It wasn’t just businesses enjoying the sunshine. Shelley Johns and husband Darren brought grandchildren Chloe, 10, and Jasmine, three, to enjoy Weymouth at its best.

Shelley said: “It’s great in the sunshine. We’ve been up the Sea Life Tower and now we are going to enjoy an ice cream and maybe take the kids on the trampolines.”

Chloe added: “My favourite part was the tower because we could see the White Horse and all along the bay.”

According to Dorset Live Weather, the mercury hit 18.9C yesterday.

It was hotter in Weymouth than exotic locations like Mexico City and Tunis, both of which managed just 17C.

But sun worshippers were making the most of the weather while they could as temperatures are set to be a little cooler this week.

Today and Tuesday are expected to be cloudy with sunny intervals, and temperatures are forecast to reach around 12C.