Storm Eleanor

My first photograph of 2018 and it seems appropriate that it should be of the sea, seeing as I live in a coastal town. Today sees our coastline battered by Storm Eleanor and with higher than normal tides predicted Natural Resources Wales issued a Flood Warning for properties along the Beach Road. High tide today was around 11:30 and expected to be around 9 metres. But with the storm raising sea levels the tide level was expected to be 5.5 metres above this level.

First stop for me was Rhyl sea-front just along the coast. Because of the way the sea defences are shaped you can see some pretty spectacular wave action.

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But it was my home town I was more worried about. There have been improvements to the sea defences in the last couple of years but with the Flood Warning in place there’s always the possibility the sea defences could be breached. I’m lucky. I live high enough that I doubt our house would be affected, but there are an awful lot of low-lying properties which rely on those defences.

And fortunately they have done their job, this time. It’s high tide, although the sea is surging now and again with some of the bigger waves, there is no need to close the flood  barriers which I’m standing just in front of.

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First post of 2018, here’s to many more and before I forget, A Happy New Year to you all.

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High Tide 12:04 PM 8.83 Metres

I want to show you a photograph. It’s of our local beach when the tide is out…and why would I want to do this?

Storm Damage

Because I’m now going to show you another photograph when the tide is in.

Groyne Marker

This week sees higher tides than normal hitting our coastline, here in North Wales. Todays high tide at 12:04 pm was calculated to be 8.83 metres (28.97 feet) and combined with very strong on-shore winds probably means it will be higher than that. Which means our coastal defences are going to take a bit of a battering. Those defences serve two purposes, one to protect the town from storms and high tides and two they act as a nice walking and cycle way right along the coast. This part stretches away in the distance to the Beaches hotel.  It’s a sort of tiered effect as the walkway is bordered by a low wall and the sand dunes.

Dog Walking

But of course when we get really high tides or storms, it’s a different matter. Those defences are shaped to break up the incoming waves but the sea does still get over them and that’s why we have that second wall.

Sun Is Out

My motto has always been “never put yourself in harm’s way to get a photograph”. I broke it once and paid the consequences by ending up in Accident and Emergency. So all of my photographs today have been taken with zoom lenses. I have no desire to get close to the action.

But some people do and I can never understand why. What makes you want to get close to breaking waves that can easily suck you right back out to sea?

Not Me

To show you what I mean…..just under two years ago I took this photograph of a man fishing on the sea-front during particularly stormy seas. That wave and the subsequent one behind it almost washed him off his feet.

Gone Fishin'

Only the retaining wall stopped him going. It was pretty hairy at the time and I couldn’t have helped him because I was some distance away using a zoom lens.

Stormy Seas

But back to today. It almost 12:04 pm and high tide. The waves are breaking right over the front part of the storm defences now, but the second wall is doing what it should.

Breakers

However, nothing changes, despite the waves breaking pretty high and the walkway being under water at times, people were still walking along, taking a chance. The thing is, if a rogue wave comes along, they’ve nowhere to go. They’re trapped between the sea and the second wall and the dunes. Admittedly the second wall is low about 1.2 metres (4 feet) and if a big wave did come along they should be able to scramble over it onto the dunes. But it’s all concrete there and by now it’s wet and slippery.

We're Brave

And then a cyclist came along…..

Cycling Along

So that’s it. Just a little insight into our coastal paths and see defences and how we cope with storms and exceptional high tides – Mike

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

On the 5th December 2013 a high spring tide, combined with a storm surge and gale force winds overwhelmed the sea defences along parts of the North Wales coast.

It has been 20 years since this area last experienced flooding and whilst not on the scale of the storm that caused so much damage in the Philipines, homes were flooded, leading to about 400 people having to be evacuated to safer areas.

I was on the coastal path at Barkby Beach, Prestatyn, to record the ferocity of the storm.  Hopefully this short video will give you some idea of what it was like and show the emergency efforts that were being made to stem the flow of water at our location.

The wall you can see in the video is the highest point in the sea defences, the tidal surge has already overwhelmed it. From the photographs you can see the hasty efforts to erect a sand bag wall to protect the low-lying houses.

There was still an hour to go before high tide.  With the water level still rising the police suggested it was time to move out of the area and let the emergency team get on with their efforts.

Whoo Hoo, I’m Back

Storm Surge

Gale force winds from the sea, an extra high spring tide and a storm surge all  served to breach the sea defences in my little part of North Wales.  Some homes were flooded, fortunately ours wasn’t, the only effect on us  was no telephone or broadband services for a few days

We knew we were in for difficult conditions, the weather services had been predicting for days of the coming storm. Natural Resources Wales had issued flood warnings to approximately 4000 homes in low-lying areas.  Now stormy weather here is nothing like the hurricanes or typhoons experienced in other parts of the world. Our storms are not as violent and generally our sea defences are pretty good at coping.   But for some reason, the heavy seas breached the defences and so more than 400 residents were forced to take refuge in Rhyl Leisure Centre after their homes were left ruined.  It was the highest storm surge we have had in twenty years.  I feel sorry for those whose houses were flooded, especially as we are approaching Christmas. Within minutes of the defences breaching,  the sea was pouring into their houses, ruining everything. Some news reports showed people standing in water up to their waist.

The photograph above was taken an hour before full high tide. You can see the sea is up to the level of the wall and has already topped it. The area in the foreground is a car park. Just out of picture secondary defences were hastily being erected to stem the flow of water.

I’ll come back later this week with some more photographs showing the storm and the efforts to protect against flooding.