Weather warnings as an Atlantic storm brings a North Sea storm surge to parts of the UK – Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes last night as a tidal surge struck the east coast of England.

The North Sea surge, predicted to be the worst in 60 years, was caused by an Atlantic storm that brought very strong winds to northern parts of the UK yesterday with widespread gusts of 60-80mph.

The Met Office continues to issue ‘national severe’ weather warnings. This morning’s shipping forecast warns of northwesterly severe gale force 9 winds rising to violent storm 11, plus a very high, rough sea state.

The Environment Agency, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Natural Resources Wales have also issued numerous severe flood warnings for the coastline that stretches from North Lincolnshire to Kent.

Flood waters have receding in many areas but there are expected to be further high tides later today.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat station in Wells was flooded during yesterday’s storm surge. It was one of nine RNLI lifeboat stations flooded or damaged by the weather.

What is a storm surge?

This is a very localised rising of sea level – independent of tides – related to the track of a storm and its accompanying winds.

The storm causes this surge of water in two ways. Firstly strong winds, often blowing parallel to the coast or onshore, push water roughly in their direction which causes water to ‘pile up’ on nearby coasts.

The second element, which is less important for the UK, relates to differences in air pressure. Low pressure, associated with storms, exerts less of a force on the sea surface – allowing the sea surface to temporarily rise in the vicinity of low pressure.

Local geography also plays a role. North Sea areas are particularly prone to storm surges because water flowing into the shallower southern end cannot escape quickly through the narrow Dover Strait and the English Channel. The shallow depths in the southern North Sea also aid the development of a large surge.
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