Today, North Tyneside was hit by the kind of storm you usually only hear about or see on the news. I watched from my office window looking out over the bay as the sky got darker and darker to the point cars started using headlights, the sky was like a stroboscope and there was the gentle rumble of thunder in the background. The rain then arrived, hammering down and soon there was a river flowing down my street, on both the road and pavement. I couldn’t stop grinning, I can totally sympathise with storm chasers!
The police were soon on the scene to block off the road since it was flooding on the corner just down the road. I wasn’t too worried, there is a cliff and the water can only get so high. The back of the house is more of a risk but they’ve just put new special storm drains in there.
Its not often I get interrupted by a phonecall when in a meeting but I was, by my Mum who after discussing sausages mentioned in passing she was worried about their house and car and the rising water levels. With my Dad being away, I agreed to go up there. If its that bad out there, my only car option, a Mazda MX5 isn’t really appropriate. Easy, I’ll just use the YZ. I grabbed my road bike gear, put a change of clothes in plastic bags which in turn went into the backpack and set off. Traffic was chaotic as cars are allergic to more than 3″ of water and were driving all over to avoid it. I just rode through it all no problem, maybe 12″ on one roundabout.
So far so good until I tried to get into my parent’s estate to which the entrance was flooded. If I’m put off on a YZ, it must be bad. I did ride into it and made the mistake of going too slowly and carefully and the bike stalled. No chance of restarting it in water that deep (say 2.5-3ft) so I pushed it around to my parents house, rather annoyed with myself. The photo above is of the junction after the levels dropped a bit. Its hard to picture without knowing the area but the roads under there drop quite a bit level wise.
My Mum’s car, parked in the road was certainly at risk if the water got any higher so I moved it onto the drive. The house itself seemed to be ok, the risk would be flooding from the rear and the drains were holding up and draining.
The street around the corner was where the water was coming from and was also like a river. Basically, water off the fields behind the estate had nowhere to go other than through the estate.
I think a lot of people were lucky. Here it looks like the water made it up to the air bricks in the underfloor space but with any luck it didn’t make it into the house itself.
I went for a look around. This pond is where all the water above flowed to about half a mile away. There would be some very underwater houses here 🙁
Here, the road has been blown out by a sewer pipe bursting. When I rode over this on the way to my parents, there was water flowing through those cracks.
No surprise that this underpass was flooded. I didn’t try the bike through it, its deep in there even for the YZ.
The remains of the flood at the bottom of my street. I did ride through this one even it was cordoned off.
I went for a walk on the seafront and came across this on the upper promenade. Under Whitley Bay sea front, there is a 3m diameter storm sewer/storage pipe which runs for several miles. The idea is simple, when it rains, this gets used as a giant tank which fills and they can then slowly process the water later. Here, one of the access points to this huge sewer has been blown open. You can only imagine what that implies.
Here is an illustration of what it must have been like on a small scale. This is on the lower promenade where some of the storm drains were still lifting the covers and overflowing onto it. It looked like some kind of large scale water feature from this angle.
The water patterns in the sand here indicate the water must have been seriously flowing off the lower prom onto the sand.
I couldn’t resist ending with a shot of the sunset. This is basically the view from my office, the camera not doing the colours justice. The bay sweeping around ending with the lighthouse. Blyth’s piers and wind turbines silhouetted in the background. Beautiful.