23ft Wave Threatens London in Biggest-Ever Floods Study

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK PRIGG

THE biggest computer simulation of flooding in London has shown that a 23ft wave - or possibly one even higher - could hit up to 750,000 homes across the capital.

The wave was produced by a "virtual storm" as part of a [pounds sterling]6.5 million Met Office project.

The scientists used data from a real storm that hit Britain on 25 November last year. That storm formed quickly and produced winds of up to 53mph.

They then superimposed an artificially high tide and exaggerated the model to simulate a massive surge that swept down the North Sea and up the Thames.

The real storm hit during a neap tide - particularly weak - so did not cause problems.

The simulated 23ft wave, the worst of 24 equally possible outcomesforecast, was three times the size of one that washed into London in 1953 killing more than 300 people and prompting the eventual construction of the Thames barrier.

"The event we deliberately created would have probably overtopped the barrier and most of the defences all the way up the river," said Professor Ian Cluckie, chairman of the flood risk management research consortium, which carried out the simulation with the Met Office. Recent research has found that more than 62,000 homes in central London are at flooding risk, with an average 16 in every postcode now classified as likely to flood within 50 years. …

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