Storm Event

High spring tides, storm surge, and large waves

Severity ? 3


The storm developed southeast of Novia Scotia, Canada on 3rd January 2014 and moved northeastwards over the North Atlantic. This had followed a series of Atlantic depressions that crossed over the UK in previous weeks. On 6th January 2014, the depression was located about 500 km northwest of Ireland with a central pressure below 960 mbar. In the following days, the depression moved further northeastwards and slowly decayed. This generated strong southwesterly winds over the entire UK. At Capel Curig, Wales, gusts of up to 70 knots [36 m/s] were recorded (Met Office, 2014a). Force 7 winds were forecasted for the south coast of the UK.

The storm generated a skew surge in the range 0.75 to 1 m at 8 sites on the UK west coast. Water levels exceeded the 1 in 5 year return period at only Portpatrick (1 in 18 years at this site, where there was a skew surge of 0.78 m). Other west coast sites experienced extreme water levels with return periods of 1 to 4 years. The storm coincided with large spring tides (Met Office, 2014b).

Waves of up to 8 m high were measured of Land’s End, Cornwall (BBC, 2014b).


Spectacular wave overtopping in Aberystwyth was among the more notable pathways during this event, and there was overtopping in many other locations.

Receptor and Consequence

This event was associated with coastal flooding in Wales, Pembrokeshire, Dorset, and Hampshire with impacts included damages sea defences, coastal erosion, inundated roads and subsequent disruption to traffic, and flooding to residential and non-residential properties (Haigh et al., 2015). The sea front in Aberystwyth was damaged by large waves (Jihadu, 2014), and 250 persons were evacuated from their homes (BBC, 2014a). In Pembrokeshire, temporary shingle sea defences were shifted several metres, also by large waves. Coastal defences were overtopped at numerous locations, and car parks and roads were closed. Several roads, including Bournemouth’s A338, were closed due to flooding. In Dorset, flooding was reported in Christchurch (ITV, 2014), with around six inches of water near Barrack Road in the afternoon (when levels were still rising), and the main road to Sandbanks, Poole was also flooded (Clarke, 2014).

Summary Table

Loss of life *
Residential property Properties flooded in Aberystwyth, Wales
Evacuation & rescue 250 persons evacuated from their homes in Aberystwyth
Cost *
Ports *
Transport Several roads closed due to flooding
Energy *
Public services *
Water & wastewater *
Livestock *
Agricultural land *
Coastal erosion *
Natural environment *
Cultural heritage *
Coastal defences Overtopping at many locations including Aberystwyth

*No known sources of information available


Affected Sites

Name Return Period ? Water Level ? Tide ? Skew Surge ? Date ?
PORTPATRICK 18 4.98 4.2 0.78 6th Jan 2014 15:00


  1. Met Office, (2014a). ‘Winter storms, December 2013 to January 2014’. Met Office. Available at: (Accessed: 9 September 2015).
  2. Met Office, (2014b). January 2014. Climate Summaries. Available at: (Accessed: 17 January 2014).
  3. BBC, (2014b). ‘UK storms: Giant waves hit amid fresh flooding fears’. BBC News. Available at: (Accessed: 17 January 2014).
  4. Haigh, I. D., Wadey, M. P., Gallop, S. L., Loehr, H., Nicholls, R. J., Horsburgh, K., Brown, J. M., and Bradshaw, E., (2015). ‘A user-friendly database of coastal flooding in the United Kingdom from 1915–2014’. Scientific Data, 2, p.150021. Available at:
  5. Jihadu, K., (2014). ‘UK hit by flood’. talktokemi.blogspot. Available at: (Accessed: 17 January 2014)
  6. BBC, (2014a). ‘250 evacuated over Aberystwyth flood fear’. BBC News. Available at: (Accessed: 18 January 2014)
  7. ITV, (2014). ‘More flood problems in Christchurch in Dorset’. ITV News. Available at: (Accessed: 17 January 2014)
  8. Clarke, K. (2014). ‘Live updates: Dorset on amber alert, severe flood warning for Iford and county braced for coastal flooding’. Bourenmouth Echo. Available at: (Accessed: 17 January 2014)