Storm Event

A storm surge along the east coast

Severity ? 1


The unusual storm developed between Greenland and Iceland on the 18th March 1961 and moved southeastward towards Scandinavia. Just north of Scandinavia on the 20th March, the storm deviated southward, crossing Scandinavia and travelling into the Baltic Sea. The storm had a central pressure of 985 mbar at 18:00 on the 20th March. It interacted with a large anti-cyclone on 20th March, located about 1000km west off Ireland, generating strong northerly winds over the North Sea. Northwesterly winds with gale force were recorded on 20th March (Met Office, 1961). Gales of 70 knots were recorded at Lerwick.

Only two tide gauges from the national network were operational at the time, so it is difficult to assess the spatial extent of the storm surge. Water levels exceeded the 1 in 5 year return level at 1 site, Dover. Here the return period water level was 38 years. The corresponding skew surge was 1.1 m. The event occurred about two days after peak spring tides (Steers et al., 1979).


No known sources of information.

Receptor and Consequence

According to Scoones (2018), water ‘swamped onto’ seafront roads at Birchington-on-Sea and Pfizer factory grounds was flooded at Sandwich.

Summary Table

Loss of life *
Residential property *
Evacuation & Rescue *
Cost *
Ports *
Transport Seafront roads flooded.
Energy *
Public services *
Water & wastewater *
Livestock *
Agricultural land *
Coastal erosion *
Natural environment *
Cultural heritage *
Coastal defences *

*No known sources of information available


Affected Sites

Name Return Period ? Water Level ? Tide ? Skew Surge ? Date ?
DOVER 38 7.9 6.8 1.09 21st Mar 2061 02:00


  1. Met Office, (1961). Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office. Monthly Weather Report. 78, (3). Available here. 
  2. Steers, J. A., Stoddart, D. R., Bayliss-Smith, T. P., Spencer, T. and Durbigde, P. M. (1979). ‘The storm surge of 11 January 1978 on the East Coast of England’. The Geographical Journal. 145, (2), pp. 192-205.
  3. Scoones, A. (2018). Understanding Coastal Flooding in Kent. Southampton Undergraduate Thesis.