Sandy and Storm Surges

This week, on the 29th October, post-tropical storm Sandy made landfall in the United States. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was tracking the storm and providing predictions of storm surge levels for the East coast (see

According to the BBC news website, the tidal surge reached a record height of 13.7ft (4.15m) in Manhattan.

The worst flood to hit the United Kingdom was the North Sea flood of 1953, when a high spring tide combined with strong winds to create a storm surge. The water level in some places exceeded mean sea level by 18.4ft (5.6m).

We have several original charts in our archive that record the storm, including these two from Southend and North Woolwich. The Southend chart shows a height of over 15ft above ODN, and the North Woolwich chart records a height of nearly 17ft.

Southend-on-Sea storm surge 1953

North Woolwich storm surge 1953

Historic records are important for creation of future defences and planning disaster prevention. The effects of the storm eventually led to the building of the Thames barrier and the charts would have provided important data used in the construction of the barrier and other defences.