Storm surge meets higher tides to threaten region’s coastal defences

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Communities along the region’s east coast have been warned of the risk of flooding today as a winter storm with winds blowing at 80mph sweep in.

The Environment Agency had last night issued six flood alerts and said staff would be out on the coast monitoring the situation as gale force winds combine with spring tides and a large surge, which could see waves overtopping defences.

Drivers were also being warned of hazardous conditions and road closures while railway passengers were alerted to possible disruption.

The coastal areas at highest risk in the region are Withernsea, Hornsea and Scarborough, though North Wales and Cheshire as well as the entire East Coast are expected to be affected.

The Met Office issued an amber warning for the region until 4pm, adding that the wave size means “there is potential for some coastal flooding and overtopping”.

A warning on its website said: “Westerly gales are expected to spread southwards across northern and central areas of the UK on Thursday, with widespread gusts of 60 to 70mph. However within the area of the amber warning gusts are expected to reach 80mph in places and perhaps as high as 90mph in exposed parts of the north and west of Scotland.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said communities are urged to “be prepared” and added: “Impacts could include flooding of some coastal properties and people are warned to stay away from the shoreline.

“Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous and there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea.”

A flood alert, the lowest of the Environment Agency’s warnings, was also issued for Goole where higher than normal tides are expected.

Visitors to the Spurn National Nature Reserve, near Kilnsea in East Yorkshire, have been urged to leave the site by 3pm.