PEOPLE were warned to stay away from the North-East coast today as the region was battered by 80mph winds and high tides.
The gale-force winds threaten to whip up the most serious tidal surge for 30 years.
In some places, sea levels could be as high as those during the the devastating floods of 1953, the Environment Agency said.
Areas most at risk of flooding include the North Sea coast, from Northumberland down to the Thames Estuary and Kent.
Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive of the EA, said: “Gale force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides and a significant coastal surge.
“Flooding of some coastal communities is expected and some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a tidal surge.
“Coastal paths and promenades will be highly dangerous, as there is an increased risk of people being swept out to sea.
“The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the emergency services, Met Office and local authorities.
“Environment Agency teams are out on the ground checking that flood defences and barriers are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and issuing flood warnings.”
The Met Office has issued a wide range of weather warnings, with winds expected to gust to more than 80mph as they swing north-westerly in mid-morning, with gusts of more than 90mph in exposed parts.
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