Britain will be battered by ferocious storms and floods over the next 36 hours, forecasters have warned.

Thousands of families are set to be evacuated after winds swept the country causing travel chaos and killing a lorry driver and man who was hit by a tree.

It is expected to be the worst coastal surge for 60 years.

uk floods

A woman stands in the flood water in Rhyl

More than 10,000 homes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are being evacuated after officials warned that the lives of people in the region could be at risk from the worst coastal tidal surge for over 60 years.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued a number of severe flood warnings - the highest category, warning of danger to life - to the east coast and north Wales as high tides and strong winds threatened to swamp the coastline.


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In Norfolk, 9,000 homes are being evacuated as local officials attempt to stem the damage from the coastal surge.
A further 1,000 properties are to be evacuated in affected areas in Suffolk and some residents in Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, are also being urged to leave their homes.

Local officials are setting up emergency accommodation facilities and handing out sandbags to help people protect their homes, police said.

Police in Humberside have also declared an emergency situation as they prepared for coastal surges from this evening.

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The EA has issued more than 250 flood alerts across England and Wales, including 34 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 today and into Friday.

flood

Blackpool pier is submerged

A spokesman said in some areas sea levels could be higher than those during the devastating floods of 1953 - which battered the east coast of England and claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

On Thursday morning 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.

Closures, fallen trees, minor accidents and incidents of flash flooding are affecting the road network in parts of the country.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee this morning to discuss the response to the storm.

Paterson told BBC News: "The purpose of the meeting was to make sure that all of the preparations - which we have well in advance - will work together to benefit the public."

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  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    BOSTON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A resident sits on the stairs of an appartment deep in flood water on December 5, 2013 in Boston, England. Parts of the United Kingdom are being affected by storm conditions and surge tides. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    BOSTON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A rescue team wade through flood water in The High Street on December 5, 2013 in Boston, England. Parts of the United Kingdom are being affected by storm conditions and surge tides. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • BELGIUM-EUROPE-WEATHER-STORM

    Belgian firefighters remove a tree that fell on the E429 / N203a highway in Halle as storm Xaver approached Belgium on December 5, 2013. A fierce storm battered northern Europe with hurricane force winds, leaving four people dead or missing, disrupting travel and forcing thousands to flee their homes over fears of the worst tidal surge in decades. AFP PHOTO/BELGA/SISKA GREMMELPREZ == BELGIUM OUT == (Photo credit should read SISKA GREMMELPREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    BOSTON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A rescue team pulls a boat with an evacuee on board through flood water in The High Street on December 5, 2013 in Boston, England. Parts of the United Kingdom are being affected by storm conditions and surge tides. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: RNLI rescue personnell work through the night searching flooded properties for people not already evacuated as emergency services prepare for the next high tide on December 5, 2013 in Rhyl, United Kingdom. Storms across Britain has resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of thousand of people. High winds and high tides caused by low atmospheric pressure has created flooding in many coastal towns. Emergency services are monitoring coastal defences as the next high tide are due in the early hours of Friday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: RNLI rescue personnell work through the night searching flooded properties for people not already evacuated as emergency services prepare for the next high tide on December 5, 2013 in Rhyl, United Kingdom. Storms across Britain has resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of thousand of people. High winds and high tides caused by low atmospheric pressure has created flooding in many coastal towns. Emergency services are monitoring coastal defences as the next high tide are due in the early hours of Friday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: RNLI rescue personnell work through the night searching flooded properties for people not already evacuated as emergency services prepare for the next high tide on December 5, 2013 in Rhyl, United Kingdom. Storms across Britain has resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of thousand of people. High winds and high tides caused by low atmospheric pressure has created flooding in many coastal towns. Emergency services are monitoring coastal defences as the next high tide are due in the early hours of Friday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    RHYL, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Cars sit in a flooded street as emergency services prepare for the next high tide on December 5, 2013 in Rhyl, United Kingdom. Storms across Britain has resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of thousand of people. High winds and high tides caused by low atmospheric pressure has created flooding in many coastal towns. Emergency services are monitoring coastal defences as the next high tide are due in the early hours of Friday. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    SANDSEND, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A police van blocks the road as strong tidal surges come over the sea wall on December 5, 2013 in Sandsend, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    WHITBY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Firefighters in Whitby pump out flood water from business premises following severe flooding in the Yorkshire town on December 5, 2013 in Whitby, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    BOSTON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A rescue team helps an evacuee from a boat after pulling it through flood waters in The High Street on December 5, 2013 in Boston, England. Parts of the United Kingdom are being affected by storm conditions and surge tides. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    WHITBY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Firefighters in Whitby pump out flood water from business premises following severe flooding in the Yorkshire town on December 5, 2013 in Whitby, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    WHITBY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A member of staff in a pub in Whitby tries to clean up flood water from the bar following a strong tidal surge on December 5, 2013 in Whitby, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    WHITBY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A member of staff in a pub in Whitby tries to clean out flood water from the bar after a strong tidal surge caused severe flooding on December 5, 2013 in Whitby, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    WHITBY, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: Firefighters in Whitby pump out flood water from business premises following severe flooding in the Yorkshire town on December 5, 2013 in Whitby, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    SANDSEND, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A Coastguard vehicle blocks the road as strong tidal surges come over the sea wall on December 5, 2013 in Sandsend, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    GREAT YARMOUTH, ENGLAND, DECEMBER 05: Water breaches the sea wall on the promenade on December 5, 2013 in Great Yarmouth, England. Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes, the Environment Agency has given 42 severe floods warnings as a storm serge hits large parts of the UK. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    GREAT YARMOUTH, ENGLAND, DECEMBER 05: A local resident looks on as water breaches the sea wall on the promenade on December 5, 2013 in Great Yarmouth, England. Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes, the Environment Agency has given 42 severe floods warnings as a storm serge hits large parts of the UK. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By Severe Winds As Storm Surges Threaten Coastal Regions

    GREAT YARMOUTH, ENGLAND, DECEMBER 05: Local residents fill sandbags through the night as high tide approaches on December 5, 2013 in Great Yarmouth, England. Thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes, the Environment Agency has given 42 severe floods warnings as a storm serge hits large parts of the UK. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

  • UK Hit By High Winds

    SANDSEND, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 05: A member of the Coastguard helps to close the coast road in Sandsend as strong tidal surges come over the sea wall on December 5, 2013 in Sandsend, United Kingdom. Strong winds and big tides are expected to cause coastal flooding along many of the east coast of England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

  • Autumn weather Dec 6th

    Cromer Pier this morning after the worst tidal surge for more than 60 years hit coastal towns along the east coast of Britain.

  • Autumn weather Dec 6th

    Cromer Pier this morning after the worst tidal surge for more than 60 years hit coastal towns along the east coast of Britain.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Firefighters doing house to house checks in Blakeney, Norfolk, after a tidal surge hit tonight.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Firefighters doing house to house checks in Blakeney, Norfolk, after a tidal surge hit tonight.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Firefighters doing house to house checks in Blakeney, Norfolk, after a tidal surge hit tonight.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    High winds and sea batter the North Antrim coast at Portstewart, in Co Antrim. Thousands of homes are still without power in Northern Ireland after gale force winds ripped down trees, power lines and electricity poles. Gusts of up to 70mph which swept in from the Atlantic have left parts of the north, east and exposed rural areas facing major blackouts.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A woman stands in the flood water in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People are rescued by the RNLI from the floods in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Police at the scene where a lorry driver has died as his HGV toppled on to a number of cars on the A801 in West Lothian as the gale-force winds brought widespread disruption to the transport network.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Police at the scene where a lorry driver has died as his HGV toppled on to a number of cars on the A801 in West Lothian as the gale-force winds brought widespread disruption to the transport network.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Police at the scene where a lorry driver has died as his HGV toppled on to a number of cars on the A801 in West Lothian as the gale-force winds brought widespread disruption to the transport network.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A man stands in front of a huge wave on the seafront in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A woman stands in front of a huge wave on the seafront in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People walk a dog along the seafront in Rhyl passing huge waves as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People walk a dog along the seafront in Rhyl passing huge waves as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    People stop and look at a huge wave as they walk a dog along the seafront in Rhyl as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country.

  • Bowline Images / Darron Mark Photography <a href="https://twitter.com/DMFoto" target="_blank">@DMFoto</a>

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    High winds and sea batter the Antrim coast road in Co Antrim. Thousands of homes are still without power in Northern Ireland after gale force winds ripped down trees, power lines and electricity poles. Gusts of up to 70mph which swept in from the Atlantic have left parts of the north, east and exposed rural areas facing major blackouts.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A driver has a lucky escape after suffering only minor injuries as a tree fell on her car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Workers clear up debris after a tree fell in high winds, landing on a passing car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A driver has a lucky escape after suffering only minor injuries as a tree fell on her car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Workers clear up debris after a tree fell in high winds, landing on a passing car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Workers clear up debris after a tree fell in high winds, landing on a passing car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    Workers clear up debris after a tree fell in high winds, landing on a passing car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A driver has a lucky escape after suffering only minor injuries as a tree fell on her car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.

  • Autumn weather Dec 5th

    A driver has a lucky escape after suffering only minor injuries as a tree fell on her car in Solihull, Birmingham. Forecasters predict winds of up to 80mph will batter the UK over the coming days.