Storm Event

'Event on the south coast as areas of the Isle of Wight are isolated by floodwaters'

Severity ? 3


The storm began to form early on 7th November 1931 east of Newfoundland before moving north-eastwards towards the UK. Upon nearing western Ireland, the storm intensified, reaching a central air pressure of approximately 960 mbar on 10th November. There were strong southerly and south-westerly gales over much of the British Isles, most prominent in the English Channel (Met Office, 1931). The storm remained situated around the British Isles before moving north and dissipating over the Norwegian Sea on the 13th November.

We are unaware of any information regarding the sea level conditions during this event. Within the national tide gauge network, only the Newlyn tide gauge was operational at the time, but this was away from the region of influence. At Newlyn the water level return period was less than 1 year. The event occurred at peak spring tides.

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


The general information provided below indicates that waves and tide combined to overwhelm defences in various south coast locations – including propagating the Western Yar (river) on the Isle of Wight. We are unaware of any further specific information regarding the flood pathways for this event.

Receptor and Consequence

This event was associated with widespread flooding and damages along the south coast caused by a “major” storm surge in the English Channel, with affected areas including Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, (Eden, 2008West, 2019). Waves reported as “battering” residential properties in some areas, and at Shoreham, Sussex bungalows were left considerably damaged (Lamb, 1991). Part of the Isle of Wight west of the River Yar and Freshwater Bay was cut-off from the remainder of the island during high tide; whilst in East Sussex “a great lagoon” of water appeared over the low-lying ground between Winchelsea beach and Rye harbour. A road here was inundated to a depth of 4 ft. (Lamb, 1991). In Littlehampton, some streets were flooded to several feet deep (West, 2019). There was “considerable” damage to bungalows at Shoreham-by-Sea (Met Office, 1931).

Summary Table

Loss of life ·
Residential property Properties were flooded in Shoreham.
Evacuation & rescue *
Cost *
Ports *
Transport Roads flooded on the Isle of Wight.
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 ?
NEWLYN 4 6.11 5.71 0.4 11th Oct 2031 17:00


  1. Met Office, 1931. Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office. Monthly Weather Report, 48(11).
  2. Eden, P. (2008). Great British Weather Disasters. London: Continuum.
  3. West, Ian. M. (2019). ‘Chesil Beach: Storms and Floods’. Geology of the Wessex Coast of Southern England. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 3 July 2019).
  4. Lamb, H. H. (1991). Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe. Cambridge University Press. Available at: 13 March 2015).