The Thames Barrier in East London was closed for the fifth time in three days on Tuesday morning to protect the capital from high tides, following extreme weather over the weekend.
There are now 20 flood watches in place across the Thames region. However, the government’s Environment Agency said the risk of flooding across England and Wales was easing, with the number of flood warnings expected to decrease.
Martin Moore, duty controller at the Thames Barrier, said: “This is the fifth time we have closed the Barrier in the past three days, which only serves to reinforce just what a vital asset it is in combating the risk of tidal flooding in the capital.”
He added: “We monitor the risk of flooding constantly, and the forecast levels require us to close the Thames Barrier to perform its role of preventing London from flooding.”
At this time of year high spring tides are normal, but heavy rainfall has resulted in large flows coming down the Thames as water drains off the land. This combined with surge activity in the North Sea has resulted in the Barrier’s closure to keep the tide from entering the capital and to maintain the river at a safe level.
The barrier reopened later on Tuesday although the agency said it would continue to monitor the weather levels and tides closely.
“This is the 119th time we have closed the Thames Barrier, and it serves as an important reminder to us all that living in the flood plain is never without risk,” said Mr. Moore.
The closure of the Barrier follows a week of strong storms across France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium, which have killed 51 people.
To find out the risk of flooding in your local area, The Environment Agency website has information on flooding. Alternatively call the agency floodline on 0845 9881188.