Packed beaches, bumper-to-bumper traffic and sizzling grills can mean only one thing for Northwest Floridians: The tourist season has officially begun.

Memorial Day, known as the kickoff to the summer season, attracts thousands of visitors during the three-day weekend. And this weekend's forecast of sunshine and above-average temperatures is sure to bring droves of tourists to the Gulf of Mexico to cool off, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Miller.

"We're looking at well above-seasonal temperatures," Miller said. "There is no chance of rain. Please remember to stay hydrated and even if you get out of the hot weather for a little while, please do so."

While the sheer number of tourists cannot be determined until an official bed-tax count following the holiday, officials say they are again preparing for large crowds and bumper-to-bumper traffic along U.S. Highway 98, major roadways connecting to Interstate 10 and smaller roads along the beach. 

Lifeguards in Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties said they will increase their staffing to accommodate for the visitors, and deputies and officers will do the same on the streets.

"There is no excuse to drive drunk this weekend either," said Corey Dobridnia, Walton County Sheriff Office spokeswoman. "If you can't drive sober, call a cab or call an Uber. And please, please, please make sure you lock your doors and take your valuables out the car, even if you're just going to run into a gas station for five minutes."

Memorial Day this year falls on "Click it or Ticket" Week, so law enforcement said drivers can expect to be pulled over if they disobey the seat belt law.

Residents, according to the sheriff's offices, should account for longer travel times this weekend, too. Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said drivers should give themselves adequate time to reach their destinations and avoid rushing.

"Traffic will, of course, as always, be an issue that requires people to be vigilant, patient and courteous to avoid accidents and road rage incidents," said Nicholson. " We want to encourage pedestrians in Destin to please use the very visible and convenient crosswalks to get across U.S. Highway 98. 

"We need everyone’s cooperation to avoid traffic crashes since they only serve to make the traffic situation that much more challenging for everyone sharing local roads," she continued. Water patrols will also be cracking down on drunk boaters this weekend, Nicholson added.

Local businesses are also doing all they can to prepare for the holiday.

Phil McDonald, owner of Black Bear Bread Company in Grayton Beach, said he is prepping double the coffee, pastries and other coffee shop goods than he would for a normal summer weekend. 

"We feel pretty good about the upcoming weekend," McDonald Said. "It's always a bit unsettling because it's a transition into summer. You're coming out of a lull after a successful spring break. We have butterflies in our stomach, but we also remind ourselves we've been through this before.

"Last year we were caught off guard, but now we have the extra seating with the addition of our new wine bar. It's just going to be a great weekend."

Surfside Resort, located in Miramar Beach, said by Tuesday morning they already had about 500 bookings on Friday and 200 to 300 on Saturday. A normal booking number would be 80 to 100.

While enjoying the Emerald Coasts white sandy beaches this weekend, visitors and locals alike are advised to swim near a lifeguard and take pictures of their children in the outfit of the day before starting the beach festivities. 

Vaughan said with the presence of man o' war in South Walton — a siphonophores that resembles a jellyfish — and a chance of rip currents, people should also pay careful attention to the flags posted each day.

"The biggest challenge we face is when people don't know where to direct us to when they have an emergency," Vaughan said. "Knowing a landmark is the first most important thing to do. Taking a picture of your child as soon as they get on the beach is an incredible tool in case your child goes missing. We will know exactly who we're looking for and what they are wearing, instead of having to get a description."