Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday 31 January

An early morning post to look back at this day 57 years ago. A northwesterly storm battered northern Europe, leaving 2,000 people dead in the southwestern Netherlands and 300 in southeastern England. The storm first hit the Outer Hebrides, where the MV Clan Macquarrie was driven ashore at Borve in Lewis, 17 miles north of Stornoway. Its crew were all safely winched ashore on a breeches' buoy and put up locally. Some ended up marrying local girls. Further south, the Irish Sea ferry Princess Victoria sailing between Holyhead and Dublin sank with the loss of 133 after its doors were smashed in by the waves. As the storm progressed southeast, the force 12 winds on its trailing edge pumped the waters of the North Sea into the narrowing and shallower southern end. This hurricane lasted for many hours, giving rise to a phenomenal storm surge of 5.7 metres, 19 feet. It flooded the Fens area of East Anglia, Canvey Island in the Thames and broke the dykes in southwestern Holland. At low tide, the sea was already at the crest of the dykes; when high tide came at midnight, disaster struck. At daybreak, 8 am, the province of Zeeland in the southwest, was under water. Some 2,000 people drowned. In the 35 years after this calamity, the Dutch built a massive series of sea defences in the southwest, which now protects the islands of Zeeland. See the above link for further details.

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