Suffolk Coastal Flooding
On 5th December 2013 news reports and Environment Agency warnings prepared us for the possibility of a catastrophic coastal flood event. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes along the East Coast. Norfolk and Suffolk’s emergency services and local authorities activated their flood response plans in preparation for the extreme weather.
Low pressure over the North sea, creating an uplift in sea level, together with storm force winds, coupled with a spring tide combined to cause a very high tide and wave action. This combination resulted in wave driven over topping and damage to existing sea defences, as well as flooding via storm drains which popped their covers. A tidal surge.
Using our understanding of flood probability and topographical data we have been able to establish a flood level for this event for Lowestoft of between 3.10m and 3.15m AOD. This equates to a return period of greater than 1:200 years, which is more severe than the floods experienced in 1953.
Fortunately while flooding was significant in many places, with roads closed, breaches of the defences, and some homes disappearing into the sea disaster was averted. With improved defences, better prediction and communications the cost in lives and property damage is likely to be far less than the floods of 1953 which hit a similar area.