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The North Sea Flood Of 1953

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The North Sea flood of 1953 and the associated storm combined to create a major natural diasterwhich affected the coastlines of the Netherlands and England on the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953. Belgium, Denmark and France were also affected by flooding and storm damage.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a storm tide. In combination with a tidal surge of the North Seathe water level locally exceeded 5.6 metres above mean sea level. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding.

Officially, 1,835 people were killed in the Netherlands, mostly in the south-western province of Zeeland. 307 were killed in the United Kingdom, in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. 28 were killed in West Flanders, Belgium.

Further loss of life exceeding 230 occurred on watercraft along Northern European coasts as well as in deeper waters of the North Sea; the ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.

In total, approximately 2,400 people were killed.

(courtesy Wiki)

Some meteorological aspects.

The floods of 1953 were the result of a combination of factors producing an effect known as a storm surge, during which water is driven against a coastline resulting in exceptionally high tides.

Tidal records at Southend show the 1953 sea level to be the highest since measurement began in 1911. The frequency of an event of this magnitude is estimated to be once in a thousand years.

The exceptionally high sea level was caused by a deep depression which tracked over the Shetland Islands before turning south-east into the North Sea. The low atmospheric pressure, 976 millibars at the centre, caused the level of the sea to rise by perhaps as much as 0.5 metres.

The associated gale force winds, blowing from the north over a fetch exceeding 2000 kilometres, produced storm waves over 6 metres in height. This caused water to pile up in the southern part of the North Sea.

The geography and topography of the North Sea, becoming both narrower and shallower toward the south, also contributed to the exceptionally high water levels along the east coast of England.

The storm also coincided with spring tides and high fluvial discharges into the North Sea to produce tides over 3 metres above the normal level in the Thames estuary and along the north Kent coast.


Viewed from a U.S. Army helicopter, Oude-Tonge on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee gives a hint of the tremendous damage wrought by the flood to Dutch islands.746px-Watersnoodramp_1953.gif

Edited by weather ship

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