Storm Event

Disastrous coastal flooding at Fleetwood, with thousands of properties in Lancashire and Cumbria affected

Severity ? 5

Source

The storm developed east of Nova Scotia, Canada on 7th November 1977. The storm initially moved southeastwards and then northeast towards Scotland, and was located between Iceland and Scotland during the morning of 11th November, centered about 900 km north of Scotland with a central pressure of about 960 mbar. On 12th November, the storm moved east-southeast across Scandinavia, with strong south-westerly and westerly winds over the UK. According to Met Office (1977), severe gales were recorded over the Irish Sea on 11th February and wind speeds of up to 50 knots [26 m/s] of westerly orientation were reported for the English coast of the Irish Sea ((Zong and Tooley, 2003)).

The storm generated a skew surge of over 0.5 m at 6 sites, from northwest England, northeast Scotland and the southern North Sea. Water levels exceeded the 1 in 5 year return period at 3 sites: Wick in northeast, and Scotland, Immingham and Dover in the North Sea. The highest return period water level was at Wick and was 1 in 13 years. The storm coincided with a spring tide and heavy rain (Met Office, 1977); and as noted below, data (not given here) more local to Fleetwood, northwest England indicates a more extreme event occurred than is represented by this database. For example, the water level return period near Fleetwood was estimated at approximately 1 in 30 years (Wicks et al. 2003).

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

Pathway

There was a serious breach in Fleetwood during this event, which is where the most severe consequences were observed. Elsewhere it has been reported that there were 60 breaches of flood embankments (Fleetwood Weekly News, 2007) although it is not certain if this includes locations of overtopping and/or structural failures.

Receptor and Consequence

The combination of strong winds, high tides and heavy rain brought widespread flooding to north Lancashire, with considerable damage to properties along the coast (Met Office, 1977; Zong and Tooley, 2003; Eden, 2008). One person was drowned during this event (The Canberra Times, 1977), and 3,600 were evacuated (Wadey, 2013). Although there is a lack of tide gauge data in the most flood-affected region, a 1.2 m surge and wave overtopping was reported at Fleetwood, which flooded 1,800 residential properties upto 1 m deep (Posner (2004)).  Over 5,000 properties and 32 km2 of agricultural land were flooded according to Fleetwood Weekly News (2007), mainly in the towns of Knott End, Pilling, Morecambe, Fleetwood, Lytham, Blackpool, Crossens and Haverigg. In some basement-level flats, the floodwater was ceiling-high. A total of 900 cattle, sheep and pigs and 6,800 poultry were killed by the floodwater. At Morecambe, quickly-rising floodwater which reached 0.5 m deep across agricultural land killed large numbers of livestock. Up to 20 m of sand dune erosion occurred in Sefton, along with damage to promenades, coastal parks and sea walls (Seftoncoast (2002)). Damage of £1 million was estimated by Met Office (1977), equivalent to over £6 million today. The Times (1977) report that in Blackpool the sea wall suffered from three big breaches and at least 250 acres of land was flooded. The sea wall at Lytham St Annes suffered from overtopping with subsequent flooding of about 1,000 acres of agricultural land and at least 39 residential properties. Part of the West End pier at Morecambe was swept away, causing an estimated £100,000 in damage.

References

  1. Met Office, 1977. Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office. Monthly Weather Report, 94(11). Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/archive-hidden-treasures/monthly-weather-report-1970s
  2. Zong, Y. & Tooley, M.J., 2003. A Historical Record of Coastal Floods in Britain: Frequencies and Associated Storm Tracks. Natural Hazards, 29(1), pp.13–36. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1022942801531 [Accessed March 5, 2015].
  3. Met Office, 1977. Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office. Monthly Weather Report, 94(11). Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/archive-hidden-treasures/monthly-weather-report-1970s
  4. Wicks, J., Mocke, R., Bates, P.D., Ramsbottom, D., Evans, E., Green, C., 2003. Selection of appropriate models for flood modelling. Proceedings of the 38th DEFRA Annual Flood and Coastal Management Conference, 16th to 18th July 2003. In Proceedings of the 38th DEFRA Annual Flood and Coastal Management Conference, 16th to 18th July 2003. Keele, UK.
  5. Fleetwood Weekly News, 2007. Anniversary of Fleetwood floods marked. Fleetwood Weekly News. Available at: http://www.fleetwoodtoday.co.uk/news/local/anniversary-of-fleetwood-floods-marked-1-1559999
  6. Zong, Y. & Tooley, M.J., 2003. A Historical Record of Coastal Floods in Britain: Frequencies and Associated Storm Tracks. Natural Hazards, 29(1), pp.13–36. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1022942801531 [Accessed March 5, 2015].
  7. Eden, P., 2008. Great British Weather Disasters, London: Continuum UK.
  8. The Canberra Times, 1977. Gales, storms batter UK, five dead. The Canberra Times. Available at: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/110877854.
  9. Wadey, M.P., 2013. Understanding Defence Failures and Coastal Flood Events: a Case Study Approach. University of Southampton
  10. Posner, D., 2004. Wyre Flood and Coastal Defence Strategy Plan, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.
  11. Fleetwood Weekly News, 2007. Anniversary of Fleetwood floods marked. Fleetwood Weekly News. Available at: http://www.fleetwoodtoday.co.uk/news/local/anniversary-of-fleetwood-floods-marked-1-1559999
  12. Seftoncoast, 2002. Coastlines- winter 2002 – Tidal flooding. Available at: http://www.seftoncoast.org.uk/articles/02winter_tidalflooding.html [Accessed August 24, 2014].
  13. Met Office, 1977. Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office. Monthly Weather Report, 94(11). Available at: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/library/archive-hidden-treasures/monthly-weather-report-1970s.
  14. The Times, 1977. Gale-damaged towns may get assistance. Times Newspapers Limited [London, England]. The Times Digital Archive