More on highest tidal surge since 1953 and December outlook

Tuesday 10 December 2013, 16:22

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson



The tidal surge which affected the east coast last week was the biggest since the historic coastal flood of January 1953 according to the Environment Agency.


In 1953 hundreds of people lost their lives. In Lincolnshire the sea came inland by 3 miles in the area around Sutton on Sea and Mablethorpe.


There is little doubt that the flood defences developed and built since the 1953 flood prevented a national emergency on Thursday night.


The Environment Agency says that flood defences now in place protected 800,000 properties along our coastline.


In Hull, the tidal barrier constructed in 1980 stopped the tidal surge which would otherwise have flooded 18,000 homes.


At its peak, the sea level recorded at the barrier measured 5.8m – the highest on record – and only 20cms from its top


Spurn Head has been badly damaged. According to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust the entire dune system has been moved 70 yards to the west, which, according to them, is a staggering 200 years of movement in 24 hours.




There’s now a strong signal that high pressure over the continent will decline, allowing low pressure from the Atlantic to dominate the UK’s weather later this week, lasting at least into the Christmas period.


This means we can expect periods of wind and rain, interspersed with brighter, showery conditions throughout the next two weeks.


There is no signal at all for any proper cold spell, although it is perfectly normal, especially later in December, for the air coming in from the west to be cold enough to allow some wintry precipitation - for example in showers following a cold front - mainly over the hills in northern Britain.



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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    So we have learnt that having the money to invest in infrastructure saves lives. Pretty obvious. So why do so-called environmentalists want to deny the developing nations cheap coal fired electricity generation that would lift them from poverty? Climate change enthusiasts are committing a crime against the bulk of humanity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    No one with any sense is denying anyone plentiful electricity in a modern world.
    It's that there is a concern that too high emissions could lead to most losing their
    lives in a seriously adverse climate or in oceans in a very different state to now.

    Long live cheap coal but with the CO2 most likely no longer a waste product but with
    new technologies the feedstock to new materials.

    Long live better materials to produce more economic solar power to power the tropics and

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    10 days into the 100 days of snow....

    It's not going well...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    "At its peak, the sea level recorded at the barrier measured 5.8m – the highest on record – and only 20cms from its top"

    Current globally averaged sea level rise is 3.2mm/yr, or 0.32cm/yr. Assuming sea level rise in the North Sea off Hull is something similar (it may be less or more; this is just an example), then in 10 years, assuming no further change in the rate of sea level rise, a further 3.2cm would been shaved off the Hull barrier. At that rate, the Hull barrier would be breached by around 2070.

    Hull, sooner rather than later it seems likely that "you're gonna need a bigger barrier".

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I can only spot two very mild Decembers in official Met Office records (mean of 5.0 C or more) that were followed by a notably cold January and February - 1985 and, to a lesser extent, 1977. Though of course it's premature to assume that this December will be that mild.


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Hello, I’m Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for BBC Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. 

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I worked as a forecaster with the Met Office for nearly 15 years locally and at the international unit, after graduating with first class honours in Geophysics and Planetary physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992. I then joined the BBC in October 2007, where I divide my time between forecasting and reporting on stories about climate change and its implications for people's everyday lives.

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