Sunderland seafront braced for tidal surge
Businesses on Sunderland seafront are bracing themselves for this afternoon's predicted Spring tidal surge.
The doors of The Smugglers pub on Roker promenade have been packed with sandbags ahead of high tide, due around 4pm.
Tom Parkin, of Sue's Cafe, said the north end of the promenade was one of the seafront's most vulnerable spots.
"The first place it always hits is The Smugglers," he said.
"There is also an area close to the Glass Centre and across the river, near the student accommodation by the Fish Quay."
He is predicting this afternoon's water level will be particularly high, with strong easterly winds blowing in from off-shore coupled with the predicted surge.
"The easterly wind blows in and the water level builds up - it's the time of year when you get Spring tides - but the tide is coming in, so the water can't get out," he said.
Tom said businesses at the south end of the promenade were sheltered from the worst of the elements.
"We have been here 14 years and we have never had any problems," he said.
"We are protected here by the piers."
Sunderland City Council says it is monitoring the situation and working closely with the emergency services to prepare for and deal with the impact of any adverse weather.
A warning has been issued discouraging people from go down onto Sunderland’s beaches and promenades today and tomorrow because of the expected large waves and high winds.
But Ed Tutty, chairman of Sunderland Seafront Traders' Association, said businesses would be staying open to provide safe places to watch the impressive waves.
"I have been down this morning and it looks rough, but it is okay," he said. "There are people down there - a lot of photographers are out looking for some dramatic pictures.
"As long as everybody stays safe and is sensible, there are lots of venues down there from where you can watch in safety, from Sue's Cafe at one end of the promenade to the Fat Buddha at the other."
Most of Britain is on weather alert today, as people prepare for the worst, with warnings of floods, wind, snow and ice covering vast swathes of the UK.
Lives could be at risk as severe flood warnings are in place for parts of the east coast with residents urged to evacuate from their homes.
Elsewhere, the Met Office has issued severe weather warnings across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for combinations of high winds, snow and ice.
The Environment Agency's seven severe flood warnings - which warn of a danger to life - are in place for lunchtime in coastal areas of Essex and Suffolk in the face of gale-force winds and high tides, while dozens of flood warnings have been imposed as the east coast braces itself for a storm surge.
The warnings take in Clacton to Lee Wick, West Mersea, The Strood and adjacent marshland, and Tidal River Stour at Mistley, including the Quay and The Walls, all in Essex.
Coastal communities in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been told they should be prepared for large waves and possible flooding.
Emergency services were putting an evacuation plan into action in Jaywick, near Clacton-on-Sea, with police officers going door-to-door informing residents of the evacuation, which is beginning at 7am on Friday.
The Ministry of Defence said about 100 soldiers from the Catterick army base have been deployed to Skegness on the Lincolnshire coast where about 3,000 residents have been urged to leave their homes or move upstairs.