The eastern coast of the U.K. and The coastal regions of the Netherlands are beginning to breathe sighs of relief as the highest tides in more than a decade – 1.5 meters (approximately 4.65 feet) above normal high tide levels – have begun to recede.
The UK’s Met Office had earlier issued warnings of “a predicted storm surge down the North Sea,” driven by “a combination of north-westerly winds exceeding 50 m.p.h. [80 kph], low pressure and high tides, that could have caused “severe flooding in the east of England.”
As a precaution, authorities had closed the Thames River Barrier to protect London. Tides on the Thames can vary by up to 7 meters (nearly 22 feet). For the first time Dutch authorities closed the barrier that protects Rotterdam, Europe’s busiest port, from tidal flooding. Over one third of The Netherlands lies below sea level, and is protected by the biggest and most sophisticated system of dams, dikes and barriers in the world.
Stewart Wortley, Head of Storm Tide Forecasting at the Met Office explained that “the height of the surge we are expecting on Friday morning happens around once every 20 years or so. The gale force winds should ease during tomorrow.”
Source: Met Office – www.metoffice.gov.uk – and news reports