Huge North Sea storm threatens England and the Netherlands with serious flooding

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:14 AM GMT on November 09, 2007

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A massive fall storm over Europe's North Sea is generating winds near hurricane force that is expected to push a dangerous storm surge over 3 meters (10 feet) in height to the coast Friday morning. The storm is being compared to the great North Sea Flood of 1953 that pushed a 5.6 meter storm surge that breached the dikes in the Netherlands. Over 2,000 people died in northern Europe in that storm, mostly in the Netherlands. While today's storm will not approach the 1953 storm in severity, the storm may generate a once in 20 years type of flooding event. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in the United Kingdom, and the massive flood gates that protect the Dutch port of Rotterdam are being closed for the first time since they were constructed in the 1990s. The worst of the storm surge is expected to hit the Netherlands near 7am local time Friday.


Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Europe from 1322 GMT November 8, 2007. A powerful low pressure system centered north of England ("L" on the image) was pushing a strong cold front southwards towards Western Europe. Image credit: University of Bern, Switzerland.

Oil platform 62114 in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland reported sustained winds of 55 knots (64 mph) at 2pm local time, and seas up to 26 feet were observed at oil platform 63110. An oil platform close to the coast of the Netherlands (62145) reported winds of 40 mph with 16 foot waves this evening. The latest QuikSCAT pass this evening showed a large area of winds over 50 knots in the North Sea. These winds are pushing a strong cold front southwards over Western Europe (Figure 1).


Figure 2. Forecast waves heights at 6am Greenwich time, Friday November 9, 2007, as predicted by NOAA's Wavewatch III model.

I'll have an update on the storm Friday morning.

Jeff Masters

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131. flaboyinga
3:42 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Mornin folks. The situation in the N Sea are has stirred up a wealth of great info. I have tied to read a lot of it and the posting has been greatly appreciated. THANKS.
130. AlbySC
2:16 PM GMT on November 09, 2007

I guess most democratic countries suffer from buracracy. We for example have half a highway laying in the centre of the country which is waiting to be completed for a couple of decades now! Another highly needed highway connection was delayed many many years as the green movement claimed the area was vital for some kind of small animal, I believe it was some kind of squirl.

Here's another one that makes you thinking.
As the storm was approaching over the last days a large amount of containers with bananas washed ashore on 1 of the northern islands. What to do with the bananas? They cannot be used anymore for human consumption (not according the locals who will have bananas for their main meal for the next week). The initiative was to ship them to the zoos for the animals what seems to make sence. Then the taxes agency reacted that import duties needed to be paid!! Rule is rule!! now a small part of the bananas go to a certain zoo but the major part must be destroyed!?!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
129. Muffelchen
2:12 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
128. Bonedog 1:55 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
dont even start with us over healthcare :( Thats a huge stick point over here.

Yeah,I know. We have the National Health Service (NHS) but,if you ask me,it is on the way out. The Government no longer wants to pay the cost of it and it is suffering death by a thousand cuts..

Enough heathcare then..

Looks like we escaped the worst of this storm by the skin of our teeth - thank God.

I think that Governments rely on this 'skin of teeth' measure too often. Think about it: how many close shaves do you have driving your car before you finally end up in an RTA? The Gov't knows that there will be lots of close shaves and hopes (probably reasonably) that the chances of something going seriously FUBAR while they are in office is pretty small and so hold their breath, then Katrina happens and they act surprised.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
128. Bonedog
1:55 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
dont even start with us over healthcare :( Thats a huge stick point over here.

10.5B for a rail link, here you would be lucky to get 1.5 million.

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
127. Muffelchen
1:53 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
126. Bonedog 1:43 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Its probably the same everywhere in every country the only diffrence is other countries do things then worry about public opinion here they worry about public opinion before deciding projects.

Catch 22.....

Update: checked cost on rail link $10.5bn

Could buy a lot of healthcare for that.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
126. Bonedog
1:43 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
I see what your sayin Muff. If they tried doing the Chunnel here it would probably still being fought in the courts.

We had a bridge collapse in August here and for about a week the only talk was about fixing the road infastructure. Reports were done and everything then the last we heard there isnt enough money in the budgets to do all the repairs, so local governments asked for a bond program or other stipened to ofset the costs. Everyone was up in arms about it. So now we dont talk about the infastructure anymore. Its probably the same everywhere in every country the only diffrence is other countries do things then worry about public opinion here they worry about public opinion before deciding projects.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
125. AlbySC
1:34 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Although public warnings are stipp appearing the conditions in NL start to relax more and more. Latest weather report gave max gusting at coastal areas around 48 mph, inland 40 mph with frequent heavy showers including hail.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
124. Bonedog
1:34 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
zZz...zZz...zZz....

sloooooooooow day
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
123. Muffelchen
1:34 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
121. Bonedog 1:14 PM GMT on November 09, 2007

Not quite as litigious as that over here but this does seem familiar :-)

This week they re-opened St Pancras Station in London as the new Channel Tunnel rail-link terminal. This is about 15 years late and cost billions. The French had theirs to Paris up and running the day the tunnel opened. You see what I mean.

Incidentally, when they built the tunnel the Government justified the cost of the scheme by telling taxpayers that there would be direct trains from all over the UK to Paris and Brussels and even Germany.I lived in Glasgow, Scotland at the time, a long way from the tunnel. How many direct trains from Glasgow, Scotland or anywhere else in the UK outside London (excluding Kent) have ever run since the tunnel opened? You guessed it, none!

To return to the weather theme, one good thing about the tunnel is that it is weatherproof: storm surges, waves and wind do not affect it.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
122. sporteguy03
1:14 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Good Morning Featured Bloggers, Lurkers, and WUBAS and JP
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5417
121. Bonedog
1:14 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
I dont think its the number of large metroploisis I belive its how the monies are wasted. (my meaning of buracracy) they spent much of the budgets alocated for projects on studies, discussions, lawsuits, more studies, more discussions, more lawsuits. Then finally they get the project underway and by then alot of the money is already gone. Then when the budget is overrun all heck breaks loose about why the costs were overrun.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
120. AlbySC
1:12 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
116. ShenValleyFlyFish 12:43 PM GMT on November 09, 2007

Well noted, however here in the west of The Netherlands the larger cities are very close together and get more or less connected over time (it's hard to see real continious countryside travelling the highways between the cities) . The general slang for the area between Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague is alraedy referred to as the 'Ring-City' and more plans are in development to govern this area as a sort of connected Mega city. Our biggest problem in this evaluation is adjusting the infra structure.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
119. Muffelchen
12:59 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
116. ShenValleyFlyFish 12:43 PM GMT on November 09, 2007

I take your point about large cities (megalopolises) the size of NYC, Detriot etc. Yep there are only three of this size in Europe (London, Paris, Moscow) as compared with 5 in N America (NYC,LA, Chicago, Detriot and Mexico City). However, on the bureaucracy front I would have to disagree. We British think we are the most bureaucratic nation on Earth, however, my wife is German and they give us a good run for our money!

I think the issue is with large cities dominating areas (countries) and getting the lion's share of the funds. For instance, London has a barrier and receives lots of infrastructure investment whereas other parts of the UK do not. Only London has a subway system for instance (Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne don't really count) yet there are many other very large cities,such as Manchester, Burmingham, Sheffield that have none. France suffers similarly.

Germany on the other hand has no single,large dominant city: Berlin is less than 4m. This means that many cities compete evenly for central government investment and,to use the example of subways, many cities have built them,including Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart (all smaller that Birmingham).

The Netherlands is a small country (relatively in a European sense) but here its capital is not its largest city. I wonder does this make a difference?
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 72
118. Bonedog
12:53 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
fire away Storm. Look foward to anything you have to tell us.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
116. ShenValleyFlyFish
12:43 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
As a Nation one of the difficulties we have is geographic size. Were this Europe LA, Chicago, NYC(get a rope) and New Orleans would likely be in different individual countries. It makes it difficult to focus on any one problem and a sustained approach to any task is quickly ignored as that isn't headline quality political fodder.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
115. Bonedog
12:40 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Thank you Storm. Means alot hearing that from you.
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113. AlbySC
12:36 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Patrap - thank you for your valuable information - I may have to add some nuances to my earlier opinion forming.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
112. Bonedog
12:31 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
yes Bobby you are correct exNoel s over James Bay currently
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
111. Bobbyweather
12:26 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Good morning! I wanted to know where ex-Noel was... I guess it's over Canada? I don't know. any answers would be fine.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 90 Comments: 2678
109. Bonedog
12:23 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
seepage.... ie we never put the steel deep enough.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
106. Bonedog
12:21 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Thank you Pat. I just remeber what I saw live and also what I remeber from a few of the documentries also the Guardian report that you linked months ago.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
104. Bonedog
12:20 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
here is my personal opinion. please I dont mean to offend anyone...

I think our biggest problem is buracracy. When I hear about other countries taking on massive projects for the benifit of thier countries it seems everything is to the highest quality and caliber and done right. Here we seem more concerned with time scheduals and more importantly budgets. We can spend billions on pet projects that only help lobbiests and constiuants but when it comes to safty issues noone opens the pocket book. DOT projects are well overneeded so are levee projects and many many others.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
102. taistelutipu
12:17 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Morning Bonedog, Patrap, Weather456 and StormW!

Patrap, thanks alot for the information about the levee systems. I didn't know either that NO and Rotterdam cooperate on that field.

Conditions have slightly improved here in the last 10 min, so I better take advantage of that and leave now. I've been waiting some hours for the winds to die down before I go out.

BBL
Member Since: August 20, 2007 Posts: 12 Comments: 640
100. Bonedog
12:15 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
stupid double post grerrrrr
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99. Bonedog
12:15 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
from what I have seen, Patrap would know alot more then me, it was because the levees were not sunk deep enough to prevent undercutting. That and neglect played a role also.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
98. ShenValleyFlyFish
12:15 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Good Morning all
Muffelchen and all thise across the big water thanks for the on the spot reports. Best wishes to all.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
97. AlbySC
12:12 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Louisiana was a big part of that design in Holland. If one does their history.You will see that.


I based my opinion on the after Katrina documentaries I watched, weak non maintained levees and a great deal of not being prepared seemed some key reasons (besides the incredible force of katrina obviously) of the disaster.

Further I have to admit I've not informed myself in great detail about the overall US protection measures.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
96. Bonedog
12:09 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Figured as much Pat.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
94. Bonedog
12:07 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
Morning Storm

Morning taistelutipu
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
93. Bonedog
12:06 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
I never knew how close the folks of NO and the Dutch were on an information sharing asspect.

I remeber always thinking why doesnt NO take a page from the Dutch's play book as far as defenses go.
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
92. taistelutipu
12:06 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
The satellite image posted by moonlight cowboy is quite impressive. The huge swirl which is moving towards Scandinavia is just about to reach Finland. We have a gale warning of about 18 m/s winds (about 40 mph or 35 kts) here and heavy rain but that's all we get here. Fortunately the Baltic Sea has almost no tides (maybe a foot or so) and even with a storm approaching there is not much flooding expected. Throughout the year the water level at Helsinki has had only about 4 ft difference from the highest to the lowest: Water levels at the Finnish coast Choose Helsinki, 12 kk (months) or 24 h to see the latest development.
The only threat is possibly inland flooding due to heavy rain.

Stay safe in England and the Netherlands.
Member Since: August 20, 2007 Posts: 12 Comments: 640
89. Bonedog
12:02 PM GMT on November 09, 2007
from the BBC UK

Phil Rothwell, head of flood policy at the Environment Agency, said the surge was about the same level as the devastating 1953 flood but that technology and sea defences had improved since then.



Water has breached sea defences in Great Yarmouth

He said: "It looks to be about 20cm lower than we originally thought, judging by what's happened slightly further north. However, that's still above the crest height of some of the sea defences."

Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
87. AlbySC
11:58 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
For the 1st time in 30 years in Holland the full Delta plan works came operational fully shutting off the northsea from the inner lands. A novelty since the works were engineered and constructed after the killing floods of 1953. Another novelty, the complete coastline from north to south was under close watch. This early morning sea levels were measured at record heights.

Having the worst behind us, we can say that the protective system has done it's work, with a lot of margin left to deal with more severe conditions in the future. Finally it has been tested in it's full extend to real conditions and as far as the information goes it was applied flawless.

I'm thankfull to our former generations for having the insight and engineering capabilities for making this country as save as possible to deal with stormsurges on a longterm base. Remember we live in a country that is for a large part below sea level and if we should let nature do it's thing, sooner or later we know we will get hit seriously with all the drama and suffer as a result.

Having said that, I can't understand why protection of New Orleans was completely ignored by the system responsible to grant people save living conditions. So many people in power have there priorities wrong putting many lives in easy to recognize risk. In my opinion this should not be tolerated by the community in general and especially those living in those areas waiting for a disaster to happen sooner or later.

Anyway, we in Holland are off the hook for now and carry on with some reinforced trust of being safe.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 24
86. Cavin Rawlins
11:58 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Good Morning

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
85. Bonedog
11:57 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
lets keep our fingers crossed for the folks over there as high tide and high surge approaches the southern areas. I am watching closely. Thanks BBC :)
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418
83. 147257
11:47 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
my Netherlands country newspaper doesn't report too much damage in the country some beaches are destroyed and some harbors went under water so ain't all to bad
Member Since: August 2, 2005 Posts: 7 Comments: 68
81. Bonedog
11:41 AM GMT on November 09, 2007
Muff it is not the remains of exNoel are currently over James Bay Canada. Noel hooked west after it made it to Greenland.

Morning folks
Member Since: July 14, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 7418

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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