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You are in: Suffolk » Don't Miss » 1953 East Coast Floods

Wednesday 29th January, 2003 - 12:23 GMT
What causes coastal flooding?
Floods
Floods
Many low-lying parts of the coastline are at risk of flooding from the sea, caused by a combination of tides and wave action, according to the Environment Agency.
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1953 East Coast Floods

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East Coast Floods 1953

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FACTS

1953 EAST COAST FLOODS:

307 people drowned

24,000 homes flooded

1,200 breaches along 1,000 miles of coastline

160,000 acres of farmland flooded

46,000 livestock lost

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Tides are produced by the movement of the sun and moon and follow a natural cycle, with higher 'spring' tides occurring every 14 days. These spring tides are particularly high at the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Tides can be predicted long in advance and are published in tide tables. However the actual tide level each day varies according to weather conditions. Low pressure causes water levels to rise. In bad weather this can build up into what is known as a storm surge.

While storm surges occur several times a year, it is rare for conditions to be severe enough to cause significant flooding. Serious tidal flooding has occurred three times in the last 50 years.

The worst incident in living memory was in January 1953 when a storm surge, combined with a high spring tide, devastated communities in five counties along the east coast. 307 people lost their lives.

In 1978 a surge caused extensive flooding along the North Norfolk coast and in 1990 in Towyn, North Wales, a storm surge of 1.5 metres breached defences and rapidly flooded the town.

Some areas of the coastline are sensitive to tides alone whereas others are exposed to the additional force of waves.

Waves are produced by strong winds blowing across the sea and can cause serious damage to natural beaches and coastal defences.

Incidents like this can and do happen. It is important to be prepared.

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