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Severe Weather Alert: Britain

March 21, 2007

Photo: High winds caused huge waves around the country

Strong winds and high tides caused chaos yesterday as Britain’s Arctic storm battered coastlines. Hundreds were evacuated from their homes amid serious flood warnings as swelling tides swept over sea defences. Force-eight gales blasted the country from the north – making daytime temperatures feel as low as minus 8C in the wind chill – coupled with the UNUSUALLY HIGH spring tides, triggered fears for life and property. The disruption came as the bitter winter weather began battering the east coast after days of bringing snow and freezing temperatures to the north and west. Drivers who parked on Southend seafront in Essex returned to find seawater lapping against their tyres. The legs of the town’s pier disappeared under the waves as the sea rose. Wintry showers – a mixture of snow, hail and sleet – lashed the whole eastern coastline yesterday, travelling as far inland as the Midlands. On the north-east coast, the esplanades at Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, and Redcar, Teesside, were flooded. At Red­car parked cars were swamped by several inches of water. One driver raced to his car and sped away just before an enormous wave engulfed the esplanade car park. Lifeboats and two RAF rescue helicopters were last night scrambled to a Belgian cargo ship with a crew of 23 struggling in heavy seas and gale force winds off Grimsby, Lincs.
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