Huge North Sea storm threatens England and the Netherlands with serious flooding

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:14 AM GMT on November 09, 2007

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A massive fall storm over Europe's North Sea is generating winds near hurricane force that is expected to push a dangerous storm surge over 3 meters (10 feet) in height to the coast Friday morning. The storm is being compared to the great North Sea Flood of 1953 that pushed a 5.6 meter storm surge that breached the dikes in the Netherlands. Over 2,000 people died in northern Europe in that storm, mostly in the Netherlands. While today's storm will not approach the 1953 storm in severity, the storm may generate a once in 20 years type of flooding event. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in the United Kingdom, and the massive flood gates that protect the Dutch port of Rotterdam are being closed for the first time since they were constructed in the 1990s. The worst of the storm surge is expected to hit the Netherlands near 7am local time Friday.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Europe from 1322 GMT November 8, 2007. A powerful low pressure system centered north of England ("L" on the image) was pushing a strong cold front southwards towards Western Europe. Image credit: University of Bern, Switzerland.

Oil platform 62114 in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland reported sustained winds of 55 knots (64 mph) at 2pm local time, and seas up to 26 feet were observed at oil platform 63110. An oil platform close to the coast of the Netherlands (62145) reported winds of 40 mph with 16 foot waves this evening. The latest QuikSCAT pass this evening showed a large area of winds over 50 knots in the North Sea. These winds are pushing a strong cold front southwards over Western Europe (Figure 1).


Figure 2. Forecast waves heights at 6am Greenwich time, Friday November 9, 2007, as predicted by NOAA's Wavewatch III model.

I'll have an update on the storm Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

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81. Bonedog
11:41 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Muff it is not the remains of exNoel are currently over James Bay Canada. Noel hooked west after it made it to Greenland.

Morning folks
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
80. Muffelchen
11:11 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Anyone know if this storm in the N Sea is the remains of Noel?

Timing is about right.
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79. Muffelchen
9:45 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Storm surge passed here (Humberside) in the early hours and has moved South,causing a few breaches in the Great Yarmouth area (Norfolk) and will continue on South from there. Thames flood barrier is closed but there around midday the surge coincides with the high tide.

Here on Humberside the floodgates on the River Hull were closed as elsewhere on the River Humber but the surge coincided with low tide so we were lucky. Tides in this part of England are as much as 23 feet so even a twelve foot surge at low tide doesn't really make a difference it's the combination of surge and tide that does the damage.

The biggest tides in the UK are on the West Coast (Rivers Severn, Wye) which are of Bay of Fundy proportions but 8m tidal ranges (25 feet) are not uncommon all around the British coastline.

Flooding risk is much higher in the east due to the low-lying nature of the land. From Flamborough Head South to Kent (with the exception of a short section 20 miles or so in length near Cromer in Norfolk) the coastline is very low-lying indeed and much of the land has been reclaimed from the Sea since Roman times. The West coast is older geologically and is rockier so the dangers from coastal flooding are less although the weather is substantially wetter and windier.

A quick aside on the latter, the UK's climate is unbelievably varied for a small island: the rainfall in N Wales is over 5m (16') per year whilst at Great Yarmouth (being flooded as we speak) the total is about 60cm or 19".

Hopefully the combination of tides will be kind to the East Coast and our near neighbours in Holland.

If Patrap is in here today I think it is spooky that in a reply to one of his posts yesterday I mentioned that Rotterdam was similar to New Orleans: not too similar I hope...
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78. sullivanweather
8:46 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Sandiquiz,

I have just heard the Storm surge has breached the sea wall south of Great Yarmouth, but again they are saying it may not be as bad as first thought, as the high tide is not as high as expected


Funny...I remember hearing the same exact thing during Katrina...
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77. sandiquiz
8:39 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
WOW - I have been a member here for a couple of years and this is the first time the UK has been featured in the Dr's blog.

I have just heard the Storm surge has breached the sea wall south of Great Yarmouth, but again they are saying it may not be as bad as first thought, as the high tide is not as high as expected.

Member Since: October 29, 2005 Posts: 288 Comments: 25959
76. windymiller
7:27 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Sunrise was about 30 mins ago here in London, and we are getting the first TV shots of the coast around East Anglia and Essex.....sea defences are being breached but its perhaps not as bad as was first feared.....the Thames barrier was closed last night so the surge has been prevented from getting to central London.
75. Starwoman
6:50 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
As far as I can tell from the news, untill now not many problems in the netherlands. No evacuations nessecary, the protektion of the waterways holds.
Thank God....
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74. sporteguy03
6:04 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
BOING
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73. listenerVT
5:38 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
♥ Hoping all good things for Mia and Papsis and all in harm's way ♥
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72. flaboyinga
5:06 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
The dip in the jet stream has sure killed off any activity in the GOM and across Fla to the E coast, and on down towards PR.

Link
71. flaboyinga
4:50 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Nitey nite Tigger, sweet dreams.(Kids and cats and stuff like that)
70. miawolf
4:28 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Thank you all. Tahk you SL for all your help. You know how mcuh we appreicate it! :)
69. tiggeriffic
4:13 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
nite all, gotta get some rest, long couple of weeks heading my way...keep an eye out our UK friends...we will be praying for you all
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68. vortfix
4:09 AM GMT on November 09, 2007

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67. SouthernLady
4:06 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Mia said there was nothing on the T.V. and only music playing on the radio...She's keeping watch while Papsis takes a nap.

Nite all!!! Stay safe!
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 115 Comments: 29926
66. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
4:00 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
nice site for cams over there

http://www.metro-emmen.nl/index.html
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
65. Barefootontherocks
3:59 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Here's a good news story from England Nov.9

Wonder where the winds are now? Wouldn't the winds be what's pushing the surge?
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64. tiggeriffic
3:58 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
got quiet on here all of a sudden
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62. Skyepony (Mod)
3:47 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Here's the latest news on it. & that last news I left in the other blog~ my bad on on the body count...lol. That was like January, in the same area & for some reason was on the weather wire as 15 minutes ago.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37325
61. SouthernLady
3:44 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Mia reports that the flood sirens have not sounded, even though it is over the safe level. This is the second time this year that has happened.
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60. SouthernLady
3:42 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
It was a repeat of one of my posts, to bring it to the top vort.
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58. tiggeriffic
3:40 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
MLC, you still here?
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57. vortfix
3:40 AM GMT on November 09, 2007

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56. SouthernLady
3:39 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Repeat post...

Here's a webcam from the Dutch island Terschelling showing the harbor. Nothing right now..Link
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55. vortfix
3:38 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Tidal wave heading for England's east coast 'threatens homes and lives'
Last updated at 02:30am on 9th November 2007

Comments (9)

Tens of thousands of householders are today preparing for some of the worst coastal floods in decades.

Sea levels could rise up to 9ft this morning along part of the East Coast, putting lives at risk.


Sea defences in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft could be breached around 7am, sending a torrent of salt water into the towns.


• Eight severe flood warnings issued by Environment Agency




• Surge expected to hit east coast in next 12 hours




• Police on standby to evacuate homes




• Dartford Creek and Thames barriers closed




Police and fire services were last night preparing to evacuate thousands of homes. Householders were stocking up on sandbags and emergency provisions.


The Norfolk Broads, Essex and northern Kent could also be hit, and the entire coast from Immingham in Humberside to Margate in Kent has been told to be on alert.


The Environment Agency, which issued eight severe flood warnings, last night said it was "gravely concerned" about the threat.


Gordon Brown called a meeting of the emergency Cabinet committee Cobra to prepare for his third major flood crisis since taking office in the summer.


The tidal surge is being caused by 50mph winds in the North Sea, an unusually high tide and an area of low pressure off the East Coast.


Simon Hughes, of the Environment Agency, said: "Great Yarmouth is very low lying and the surge is expected to hit at the same time as the high tide."

It is expected to measure almost 5ft above what is normally expected - but in the worst case, it could be more than 9ft higher.


Mr Hughes said the defences were almost 10ft high, "so it's going to be close and we are gravely concerned".


He added: "The most important thing that people can do is contact the Environment Agency's Floodline to see if they will be affected. If they are, they can move valuables upstairs, move their vehicles and ensure that their neighbours are safe."


The surge has echoes of the East Coast floods of 1953, when more than 1,000 people died.


"Things are very different now," said Mr Hughes. "We have flood defences, a warning system and the emergency services are well prepared and practice for floods."

Around 8,000 homes in Great Yarmouth could be at risk, along with 1,800 in Lowestoft.


Last night, locals were collecting sandbags from the council and preparing to barricade their homes.


Beth Manning, of Great Yarmouth police, said: "Evacuation is more than likely. We have been doing a lot of immediate work in Yarmouth."


Izzie Cunningham, of Lowestoft's Waterlane Leisure Centre, said: "The centre will be an evacuation centre."


Police warned residents to avoid travel, prepare to move upstairs by hoarding food, clothes, blankets and torches, and fill the bath and buckets with water for washing in case there is a loss of water supply.


Norfolk and Suffolk have six severe flood warnings between Winterton, Norfolk and Aldeburgh, Suffolk.


The warnings carry an Environment Agency alert stating: "Severe flooding is expected. There is extreme danger to life and property. Act now."


Five less serious flood warnings and 22 flood watches are in place around the East Coast. In Kent, the surge will peak around noon, but is not expected to be as severe.


Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: "There is a risk of flood defences being over-topped on the coast and in tidal rivers, especially in East Anglia, particularly the Norfolk Broads and the coast south of Great Yarmouth including Lowestoft, and areas south of this as far as the coast of Kent."


Call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for the latest warnings.
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54. vortfix
3:35 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
There's a webcam here somewhere....good luck.
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46068
53. SouthernLady
3:35 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Noel just ain't giving it up huh?
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52. SouthernLady
3:33 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Hey MLC, vort! This could be bad!
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51. tiggeriffic
3:33 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
no mail in my box, postman musta lost it...
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
50. SouthernLady
9:30 PM CST on November 08, 2007
North Sea surge brings flood risk

A storm in the North Sea has left Britain and the Netherlands facing the worst flood threat in decades with tidal surges predicted early on Friday.

Flood defences have been put on alert on the entire Dutch coast and flood warnings are in place for the eastern and northern coasts of Britain.

A tidal wave in 1953 killed more than 2,000 people in both countries.

Oil platforms have been closed off the Norwegian coast and gales are expected in Germany and Denmark.

The Dutch transport ministry said this was the first time since 1976 the whole North Sea coast was under alert.

Maritime traffic in Rotterdam was halted, as the authorities closed the giant Maeslant barrier that guards entrance to the largest port in Europe for the first time since its construction in the 1990s.

It took half-an-hour for the two doors of the barrier across the Nieuwe Waterweg to meet, spanning a channel 360 metres wide.

Rotterdam will remain closed until 1700GMT on Friday, a port spokesman said.

One-third of the land mass of the Netherlands is under sea level.

Flood warnings

In Britain, the Thames River and Dartford Creek barriers are being shut as waters are forecast to surge 1.5 metres (5 feet) above normal sea levels.

UK government warned large areas of Norfolk and Kent coasts were at risk of severe flooding and the Met Office warned of gusts of up to 145km/h (90mph) for the Orkney and Shetland islands in Scotland.

The storm surge is expected to peak around dawn on Friday, and several hundred people have left their homes near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

Severe gale warnings were issued in Germany and Denmark, with wind gusts of up to 125km/h (80mph) expected.

In Germany, regions around the Elbe and Elm rivers were under flood warnings.

The North Sea storm affected oil industry in Norway, the fifth largest exporter of crude in the world, with the closure of oil platforms off its coast.

Norway's oil production of 220,000 barrels per day is expected to be slashed by 10% possibly leading to increases in the price of crude, already at record levels, experts say.
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49. vortfix
3:31 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Port of Rotterdam page....Maybe I missed it?
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46068
48. tiggeriffic
3:29 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
took forever moon, everywhere we went, people were taking pics...posted the latest that night...have ya looked?
Member Since: September 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3650
47. moonlightcowboy
3:29 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
.
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46. moonlightcowboy
3:27 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Hey, tigger! Yeah, we'll all be saying a prayer for them!

How was the "infamous" firetruck treating?
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45. tiggeriffic
3:23 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
That is the same area my oldest was in last summer, he spent several weeks in the UK as a Student Ambassador. Will pray till all is over for everyone there
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44. vortfix
3:20 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Thousands of people on the east coast of England were preparing to evacuate their homes last night, having been told of an "extreme danger to life and property" as eight severe flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency.
Gordon Brown convened a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee last night amid signs a storm surge off the coast of East Anglia would lead to flash flooding. Ministers were particularly concerned over the vulnerability of the port of Lowestoft in Suffolk.

The first indication of the scale of the risk came when the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, told the Commons of the danger, but ministers had decided it was sufficiently acute to convene Cobra, a meeting of ministers and emergency planners from across Whitehall.
The Environment Agency said gale-force winds in Scotland and a high tide were expected to cause a 2.9 metre (9ft 6in) tidal surge, and suggested the areas at greatest risk were the Norfolk Broads and the coast south of Great Yarmouth including Lowestoft and Felixstowe.

A spokesman likened the conditions to those leading up to the notorious floods of 1953, when large parts of East Anglia were under water and more than 300 died: "In 1953, there was a 3.2m surge and also high tides and a storm. It's comparable but we're much better prepared now."

Mr Benn said police were on standby in Norfolk and Suffolk to coordinate the emergency response, including evacuation in case of severe flooding over the next 48 hours. "A tidal surge of up to 3m is making its way down the North sea which could coincide with peak high tides," he told MPs. "There is a risk of flood defences being over-topped on the coast and in tidal rivers, especially in East Anglia, particularly the Norfolk Broads and the coast south of Great Yarmouth including Lowestoft, and areas south of this as far as the coast of Kent."

Sandbagging to protect against flood was under way in Great Yarmouth. The A47 between Acle and Great Yarmouth and A12 between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were to close from 3am this morning. In Norfolk, police evacuated vulnerable people in low lying areas, including 200 in care homes and patients at Northgate hospital; officers also checked door to door.

Residents in low-lying areas of the Suffolk coast were being advised to leave their homes. Leisure centres in Lowestoft and Leiston, as well as Beccles public hall, were being made available to the public.

The Environment Agency predicts the highest water will hit Immingham on Humberside at 4.30am and the East Anglian coast between 7am and 8am. There was also the possibility of flooding further to the south as the tidal surge moves on.

The Local Government Association said council emergency planning teams were on full alert in areas with severe warnings, and authorities were on standby to provide rest centres for residents unable to return home because of weather or flood damage.

"Anyone by a river, coastal or flood risk area must be prepared," said the association's environment board chairman, Paul Bettison. "There are lots of precautions you can take. People should sign up to the Environment Agency's automated warning system, so they get a call the moment there is a risk their home could flood.

"People should also move all their valuables and irreplaceable items such as passports, certificates and wedding photos upstairs and out of the way."

The summer floods in England are believed to have caused £3bn of damage, while it was revealed yesterday that dozens of housing schemes and other developments were approved by local authorities last year despite explicit warnings they faced an unacceptably high flood risk. The Environment Agency said 13 large and 90 minor developments were given the go-ahead against its official advice.


Devastation of 1953


Hundreds of people lost their lives when floods battered the east coast of England in 1953. On the night of January 31, a combination of high tides and severe storms in Europe caused the North sea to sweep up to two miles inland, with floodwater surging down the coast between the Tees and the Thames.

By the morning of February 1, some 307 people in coastal towns and villages had died as sea defences burst in more than a thousand places and water levels rose 5.6m above average sea level.

People did not receive warnings and were unable to prepare for the impending flood. Around 24,000 homes were damaged and more than 30,000 people moved to safety from around 1,000 miles of British coastline from Shetland to Kent.


Sarah Knapton

Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46068
43. tiggeriffic
3:18 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
haven't been listening much, sorry, not that I am not concerned, a lot on my plate right now...hope they will all be ok, how bad is it gonna be?
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42. tiggeriffic
3:17 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
evening MLC, Baja, Vort, Lady, everyone else
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41. SouthernLady
9:16 PM CST on November 08, 2007
Sorry Tigger, major storm surge and weather "across the Pond"...Hello!
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40. SouthernLady
9:15 PM CST on November 08, 2007
They have twice...sorta busy right now...
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39. SouthernLady
9:14 PM CST on November 08, 2007
Sad to say vort, but FEMA does a better job than this!
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38. vortfix
3:13 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Here's a novel idea....why don't the people that live there and blog here post some info?
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37. vortfix
3:12 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
That's the Environment Agency....they issue all the warnings. Sounds like FEMA!
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36. moonlightcowboy
3:13 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Airmass from EUMETSAT shows the approaching storm. I wondering if the flow from the nw will cut it, possibly shift it further eastwards?
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35. SouthernLady
9:09 PM CST on November 08, 2007
Not much info in those vort. Been looking at them for hours. I can't believe the lack of info on this, not only here, but over there. They are basically as much in the dark as we are!

It just says storm surge and flood warning, don't go to sleep tonight! Geez.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 115 Comments: 29926
34. tiggeriffic
3:07 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
what is up with the weather??? (sorry, been lost in my own problems today) haven't watched in a day or so
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33. vortfix
3:07 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
UK flood warnings.
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32. SouthernLady
9:07 PM CST on November 08, 2007
Thanks for the newest update map in the header!
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31. SouthernLady
9:03 PM CST on November 08, 2007
Although the Environment Agency you have doesn't give MUCH info...I would follow their advice Papsis!!! Rising waters don't make much noise!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.