Norfolk Surge Damage

The surge damage that hit the Norfolk Coast on the evening of Thursday 5th December was the worst experienced since 1953. In fact along the North Norfolk coast facing the gale the sea was pushed to an even higher level during the storm flood peak sea levels as well as producing even bigger waves.

The deep barometric low over the North Sea adjacent to a high pressure system brought severe 90 mph gales at a peak tide, which drove the sea down the coast and produced huge waves to wreak havoc, overtopping and breaking the sea walls, flooding, breaking and washing away many homes, damaging wildlife sites and destroying the infrastructure.

Fortunately, no lives were lost, unlike 1953 when 300 people drowned, as since then sea wall and defences had been built. But, they had not all been maintained. Before the great Horsey flood in the late 1930’s local people and councils were calling attention to the fact that the coast was becoming vulnerable, and no remedial action resulted. The same call was made by aware people prior to the 1953 sea breakthrough, and again there was no remedial action. Now it appears that history has been repeated.

Although some defences held, it now appears, after counting the damage, that the lack of sufficient funding to provide adequate sea defences in East Anglia almost resulted in a further total calamity. East Anglia has sunk by some nine centimetres over the last sixty years and sea levels have risen by some 21 centimetres since 1953 due to climatic change bringing about marine expansion and southern polar icecap and glacier melt over the same period.

So had we had identical meteorological conditions as 1953, sea levels of 30 cm more would have resulted, which would have topped many flood walls and sea defences.

The BBC website shows some photographs of the widespread damage along the Norfolk Coast.

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