Flooding threat as winter storms set to continue


Parts of eastern England are preparing for possible flooding, as winter storms are due to hit much of the UK later.

Coastal communities in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are braced for large waves, and some people have been urged to evacuate their homes.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings covering much of the UK for combinations of high winds, snow and ice on Friday.

Early wintry showers could disrupt rush-hour travel on Friday morning.

In Scotland, where heavy snow caused road closures on Thursday, a small number of schools are likely to stay closed and further disruption is expected as the Met Office warns of up to 20cm (8in) of snow.

The Environment Agency’s seven severe flood warnings – which warn of a danger to life – are in place for Friday lunchtime in coastal areas of Essex and Suffolk.

Dozens more flood warnings have been imposed along the east coast as it braces itself for a storm surge caused by gale-force winds and high tides.

Coastal communities in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been told they should be prepared for large waves and possible flooding.

Volunteers from the British Red Cross were “ready to respond” in the area on Thursday night.

Emergency services were putting an evacuation plan into action in Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, with police officers going door-to-door to inform residents of the evacuation beginning at 07:00 GMT on Friday.

Leaflets warned residents their properties “could be flooded by sea water up to a depth of three metres”.

‘Dangerous waves’

The Ministry of Defence said about 100 soldiers from the Catterick army base had been deployed to Skegness on the Lincolnshire coast, where about 3,000 residents have been urged to leave their homes or move upstairs.

Suffolk Police said specific areas of the coast had been identified as being at high risk of flooding – taking in around 1,100 properties which are likely to be evacuated.

Mark Sitton-Kent, national duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Gale-force winds and high tides are likely to create large and dangerous waves along parts of the east coast on Friday and Saturday.

“These conditions could also cause flooding to coastal roads and could impact properties.”

Mr Sitton-Kent urged the public not to put themselves at risk by driving through flood water or taking pictures.

The Army is on standby to assist if needed and tidal gates on the east coast have been closed ahead of the high tides.

Floods minister Therese Coffey said: “Our absolute priority is protecting lives, homes and businesses from the threat of coastal flooding currently facing the east coast.”

What is a storm surge?

A storm surge is a change in sea level that is caused by a storm.

The main cause of a storm surge is high winds pushing the sea water towards the coast, causing it to pile up there.

The strong winds in the storm generate large waves on top of the surge which can cause damage to sea defences, or spill over the top adding to the flood risk.

Source: Met Office

On Thursday, heavy snow was lying across Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of England. Driving snow and high winds disrupted travel across the country.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “A combination of staffing and maintenance cuts means that rail and Tube services are running on a knife edge at the best of times.

“Any adverse weather conditions are almost guaranteed to tip us over that edge.”


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