Storm Event

Residents near Aberystwyth are urged to leave their homes, and there are fears about a storm surge along the River Severn

Severity ? 3


The storm developed off the east coast of the US on 29th January 2014 and moved northeastwards towards the UK. On 30th January, southwest of Iceland, the storm combined with, and was enhanced by, another low-pressure system located over Greenland. The central pressures deepened rapidly to below 950 mbar. The storm then travelled eastwards towards Ireland, before turning north and crossing northwest Scotland. It then moved northeastwards into the Norwegian Sea on 3rd February 2014. Wind gusts of almost 60 knots [31 m/s] were recorded at Dundrennan, Kirkcubrightshire, and over 50 knots [26 m/s] on the south coast (Met Office, 2014a). Winds were gusting at around 70 knots [36 m/s] in Aberystwyth (BBC, 2014). The storm was one of a series of successive storms that moved across the UK, separated by an interval of only a few days (Met Office, 2014a).

The storm generated a skew surge of between 0.25–0.75 m at many sites along the UK west and south coasts, and in Scotland. Water levels exceeded the 1 in 5 year return level at 8 sites along the west coast. The highest return period water level was at Stornoway and was 1 in 35 years. The next largest return period of 1 in 20 years was at Workington. The highest skew surge was at Workington and was 0.62 m. At Stornoway, the skew surge was 0.48 m. The event occurred about a day before peak spring tides.

We are unaware of any sources describing the wave conditions during this event.


The primary mechanism of defence failure during this event was wave overtopping on the open coast and overflow (of defences and land) in estuarine areas and river catchments.

Receptor and Consequence

This event was associated with flooding around many parts along the UK southwest and west coasts, with impacts exacerbated due to the occurrence of several storms and consequent flooding during the preceding days (Haigh et al., 2015). In Aberystwyth, hundreds of students were, as a precaution, relocated from their homes after streets were flooded. Parts of the Bristol Harbour entrance flooded after the River Avon rose above its banks (The Guardian, 2014). An amateur video report shows flooding in several streets in Looe. In Tirley Village the B4213 and A417 roads were closed due to flooding (Tirley Council, 2014). Another video shows that flooding occurred by waves overtopping defences at high tide in the area between Little Bispham, Blackpool, and Cleveleys at around noon on 1st February.  Over the weekend of 1st February, about 180 homes were affected by river and coastal floods (Daily Mail, 2014). Also reported was damage to the promenades in Newlyn and Penzance, whilst large waves flooded houses across Cornwall. At Newgale (southwest Wales) severe flooding was reported and a bus was hit by a large wave and ten passengers needed to be rescued. In Newquay, significant cliff erosion occurred and a part of the sea wall at Towan Beach was undermined, which led to failure and damage to the adjacent road. In the River Severn, a large tidal bore was expected, which raised concern of further flooding in the area. The storms also caused significant coastal erosion in many areas (Met Office, 2014b).

Summary table:

Loss of life *
Residential property Around 180 properties impacted by coastal and fluvial flooding during the weekend of this event
Evacuation & rescue Hundreds of persons evacuated in Aberystwyth
Cost *
Ports *
Transport Coastal roads in many locations impacted including the B4213 and A417
Energy *
Public services *
Water & wastewater *
Livestock *
Agricultural land *
Coastal erosion Considerable cliff erosion at Newquay
Natural environment *
Cultural heritage *
Coastal defences *

Affected Sites

Name Return Period ? Water Level ? Tide ? Skew Surge ? Date ?
STORNOWAY 35 5.96 5.48 0.48 1st Feb 2014 07:30
WORKINGTON 20 9.77 9.15 0.61 1st Feb 2014 12:15
PORTPATRICK 15 4.96 4.43 0.52 1st Feb 2014 12:30
ULLAPOOL 9 6.25 5.79 0.45 1st Feb 2014 07:45
PORT ERIN 7 6.36 5.88 0.48 1st Feb 2014 12:15
MILFORD HAVEN 6 8.06 7.79 0.27 1st Feb 2014 07:15
ILFRACOMBE 5 10.36 10.19 0.17 1st Feb 2014 06:45
KINLOCHBERVIE 5 5.93 5.44 0.49 1st Feb 2014 08:15


  1. Met Office, 2014a. February 2014. Climate Summaries. Available at:
  2. BBC, 2014. UK floods: Coastal towns on alert for high tide and gales. BBC News. Available at: [Accessed January 16, 2014]
  3. Haigh, I.D. et al. 2015. A user-friendly database of coastal flooding in the United Kingdom from 1915–2014. Scientific Data, 2, p.150021. Available at:
  4. The Guardian, 2014. Flooding: five lessons we have learned. The Guardian. Available at: [Accessed January 16, 2014].
  5. Daily Mail, 2014. Flood-hit homes targeted by thieves as South West is battered by huge storm. Daily Mail. Available at: [Accessed January 16, 2014].
  6. Met Office, 2014b. Winter storms, December 2013 to January 2014. Met Office. Available at: [Accessed November 20, 2016].