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

Wednesday 29th January, 2003 - 09:00 GMT
Why did the East Coast Floods happen?
Prefabs @ Felixstowe (pic - Jean and Bryan Lake)
Prefabs @ Felixstowe (pic - Jean and Bryan Lake)
What changes in the climate and sea levels caused the East Coast Floods of 1953 to take place?
SEE ALSO
BBC Weather:
East Coast Floods 1953
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WHY IT HAPPENED:


  • The North Sea, between Britain and northern Europe has a long history of flood disasters

  • combined effects of storm surge and high tides

  • tide of 31 Jan 1953 was a full moon spring tide, approaching the equinox

  • tide rose higher than expected because of atmospheric pressure and wind

  • intense depression moving from the Atlantic, turning south east to the North Sea

  • one of the most violent and prolonged northerly gales in British meteorological history

  • tidal surge developed and moved down east coast

  • tide 8-9 ft above predicted levels - intensity of depression sucks the sea to its centre

  • surge of 31 Jan 1953 took 11 hours to travel from Aberdeen to the Thames estuary, building progressively

Junctionof Tacon Rd & Langer Rd, Felixstowe (pic - Derek Swann)
Junction of Tacon Rd and Langer Rd, Felixstowe (pic - Derek Swann)

 

TIDAL SURGE (info from Met Office)

  • caused by action of wind on surface of sea, with barometric pressure a secondary factor

  • pressure decreases by one millibar, the sea level rises by 1 cm

  • the effect of a strong wind coupled with very low barometric pressure can raise sea level in Eastern England by more than two metres

  • strong winds that create surges also generate large waves

  • greatest surge on record for North Sea was night of 31 Jan/1st Feb 1953

  • in Eastern England 100,000 hectares were flooded and 307 people died
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