STRONG winds were followed by a high tide, triggering the Environment Agency (EA) to issue a range of warnings for the UK coast – including Hartlepool.
Hartlepool’s Headland was partially flooded with cars getting stuck in the water, causing traffic to be brought to a standstill.
Heavy traffic was also reported on the A689 and A19 as the majority of the Teesside area suffered due to the sea swell.
Seaton Carew’s sea defences were dramatically slammed with waves as the sea reached its peak level at high tide at around 4.47pm.
The EA had issued more than 250 flood alerts across England and Wales, including 28 severe flood warnings which are only issued when flooding poses a “significant threat to life”.
The agency said communities along the North Sea coast from Northumberland to the Thames Estuary and Kent, in addition to those on the Irish Sea coast from Cumbria down to Cheshire, could see significant coastal flooding later on Thursday and into Friday.
A spokesman said in some areas sea levels could be higher than those during the devastating floods of 1953, but defences built since then - including the Thames and Hull barriers - mean that many parts of the country are much better protected.
However, some coastal flood defences could be “overtopped” by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge, he said.
For Hartlepool, the flood warning reads: “An area of low pressure is forecast to bring a large surge, large waves and gale force winds during Thursday afternoon and into Friday. Onshore waves of up to 1.5m could affect the coast at high tide. Significant coastal flooding is possible to low lying land, roads and walkways between 3pm and 7pm. Flooding to properties is possible.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities and have staff out on the ground confirming that flood defences are in good working order.”
The weather has also caused chaos to the rail network, with services for the entire of Scotland and parts of the north of England suspended.
Trains were halted at their nearest stations and passengers told to disembark after Network Rail said debris on lines and damage to equipment meant it was not safe to operate any services.
A number of flights have also been disrupted by the bad weather.
This morning Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee to discuss the response to the storm.
See the Environment Agency’s interactive flood map by clicking here