Sunderland weathers dramatic waves as people and businesses stay safe from tidal surge
Hundreds of people turned out this afternoon as Sunderland's seafront was pounded by spectacular waves.
A massive high tide saw heavy flooding along the promenade from Roker to Seaburn and sent spray shooting metres into the air.
Police and Coastguard officers were on hand and long stretches of the seafront were sealed off for safety reasons.
The waves were the result of a tidal surge, aggravated by the bitter easterly wind
Emergency services and authorities were on stand by as the predicted strong winds combined with the high spring tide to send waves crashing over the promenade.
High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear John Mowbray was among the crowds.
"I have never in 60 years seen it like this - it is amazing," he said.
"It is the power of nature. To think that just yesterday, I was walking along the promenade and today you can't get anywhere near it.
"It is incredible."
SAFC 1973 FA Cup hero Micky Horswill was also out on the promenade at Seaburn.
"I have never seen it like this myself," he said.
"It's incredible, isn't it?
"It must have done a lot of damage."
Authorities had been preparing for flooding over the past few days, and people were warned to stay off the beach as the weather and tidal conditions made the area lethal.
Ed Tutty, chairman of Sunderland Seafront Traders'a Association, was delighted with the response from the public.
"It is spectacular - that is the only word to describe it," he said.
"The important thing is that people have listened to what the council has said about being sensible."
Businesses in the area had previously rehearsed plans and Sunderland City Council worked with the Environment Agency to monitor the situation and provide advice and support as needed.
Mr Tutty was pleased with the preparations which had been put in place.
"I have been to have a look at the promenade under the Fat Buddha - the council has been very good with supplying sandbags and hopefully they have served their purpose," he said.
More than 150,000 people from as far afield as Florida watched live coverage of the waves on the Echo's Facebook page.
Sunderland City Council's portfolio holder for city services Coun Michael Mordey said the images proved how right the authorities had been to warn people to be careful.
"This video footage shows why we’re asking people to heed the warnings from the Environment Agency and the Coastguard not to put themselves at risk by venturing onto the promenade when the weather is like this," he said.
"I know it looks really dramatic and I can understand why people want to see what’s going on but the last thing we want is someone putting their life at risk and endangering others in the process."