Communities along the east coast urged to take action to prepare.
Further severe flood warnings have been issued this afternoon as the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 60 years begins to hit the North Sea coastline.
There are now 41 severe flood warnings in place – the highest category – with three severe flood warnings issued this afternoon for the Kent coast, from Sheerness to Deal. Significant impacts from flooding are expected, with severe flood warnings in place for areas including Queenborough, Seasalter, Gravesend and Sandwich.
Communities along the Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent coast are at the highest risk of flooding today and tomorrow, with flooding also expected along much of the rest of the east coast of England.
The North West of England is expected to experience some flooding this afternoon, with focus around Merseyside (River Mersey) and parts of Cheshire (River Dee).
Evacuations are taking place
Police forces are evacuating some coastal towns along the east coast and people are urged to follow any instructions by the police.
Flood defences protecting the coast line
Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.
In some areas, sea levels could be higher than those during the devastating floods of 1953. However, flood defences built since then – including the Thames and Hull Barriers – mean that hundreds of thousands of properties are much better protected than in 1953.
The Environment Agency will be closing its Thames Barrier tonight (Thursday) to defend London, in addition to operating numerous other defences along the Thames Estuary, as well as those at Colne in Essex and Kings Lynn in Norfolk.
Farmers are being urged to protect their livestock and consider moving them out of affected areas.
Natural Resources Wales is continuing to monitor the situation although tides in north Wales this evening are not expected to be as high. They are now supporting emergency services and the communities that have been affected by the flooding earlier today.
John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s Head of Incident Management, said: “Flooding of coastal communities along the eastern and north west coasts is expected today and into Friday. Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.
“People are being urged to check the Environment Agency website or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and to sign up to receive free flood warnings.
“The Environment Agency continues to monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the emergency services, Met Office and local authorities. Our teams have been out in force checking that flood defences and barriers are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and issuing flood warnings.
“Coastal paths and promenades will be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of people being swept out to sea.”