North Sea Flood Threat

Can the North Sea Floods of 1953 happen again?

A storm that is likely to hit parts of Northern Europe between Thursday 5 December and Friday 6 December prompted authorities in Scotland, England and Germany to issue flood warnings for the North Sea coastal regions of those countries. Flood defences built since the 1953 disaster will be put to the test should sea levels rise. Flood warnings have been issued and people told to stay away from the shoreline.

United Kingdom

In England, the Environment Agency forecast that huge waves and strong winds, combined with a spring tide and tidal surge will bring significant chances of flooding along coastal areas.

The areas at most risk are the coasts of Norfolk, Yorkshire and the north east of England. The coasts of Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Essex  and even as far south as Kent and London. The Thames Barrier will be put into operation, most likely from the afternoon of Thursday 5 December. Areas around the tidal reaches of the River Trent, in Nottinghamshire are also at risk. There are also flood warnings for parts of the UK’s west coast along the Irish Sea coast, in particular north Wales and the north west of England.

John Curtin from the Environment Agency said:

“Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.”

“People should check the Environment Agency website or Twitter and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and to sign up to receive free flood warnings.”

Floods are likely in areas of Scotland also. Scottish Environment Protection Agency SEPA have warned of possible floods in the Edinburgh Fife areas, but also and Skye and Lochaber.


According to Germany’s Deutscher Wetterdienst, the country is about to expect “attacks from the northwest” in the form of a low pressure system building up off Greenland means that much of Germany’s North Sea coast may see storms and floods by Thursday or Friday this week, especially the state of Lower Saxony. Flood warnings have been issued. In a similar situation to the east of England, the storms will combine with large waves and a spring tide, increasing the likelihood of flooding. By the early hours of Friday 6 December, the tide levels in areas such as Norderney, Bensersiel, Emden, Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven is expected to be between 225cm and 300cm above normal.


There are currently no flood warnings in the Netherlands, although the country is on a red alert warning for strong winds. The sea level is expected rise about 1.75 above normal for the spring tide. This will not, however, lead to any flood risk until the tide rises to 2.70 meters above normal levels. As a precaution, the Maeslantkering and Oosterscheldekering flood barriers will most likely be raised.