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

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

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

Winter Weather

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