Settled weather has calming influence on flood fears

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The Independent Online
THE WEATHER has come to the aid of hard-pressed sea defences along the east coast of England and averted threatened floods today and tomorrow.

An urgent programme of repair work on the defences has been carried out in East Anglia over the past six weeks, after storms in January caused pounds 1.2m damage.

The National Rivers Authority and the Storm Tide Warning Service had feared that because the moon's orbit brought it exceptionally close to the Earth yesterday, high tides would result.

It was also a full moon, which increases the tide, and if this had combined with low pressure and strong northerly winds it could have caused the worst east coast flooding since 1953, resulting in massive damage.

The 1953 floods killed more than 300 people when a storm surge combined with a spring tide to send a wall of water over sea defences from the Humber to the Thames estuary.

Such casualties would be unlikely today because the warning system is better organised.

Ian Pratt, head of the Storm Tide Warning Service, which is run by the Meteorological Office, said yesterday: 'We do not believe that there will be any serious flooding this week because the weather is very much on our side.'

The weather for the past few days has been anti-cyclonic with high pressure and light southerly winds. This is the reverse of the conditions which build up a surge, such as that in 1953.

Helen Leversedge, spokeswoman for the Anglian region of the National Rivers Authority, said: 'There is no cause for concern as long as these weather conditions continue.'

She said that in some areas tides yesterday were actually lower than predicted. However, work on sea defences will continue to counter future threats.

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