London flood alerts: Thames Barrier closed as river burst its banks

Thames Barrier closed for the first time this winter

London flood alerts: Thames barrier closed as river burst its banks

Flood alerts have been issued for a large part of London and the Thames Barrier has been closed for the first time this winter after the river burst its banks.

See also: Scary video as boat battered by waves in the North Sea

See also: Cruise passengers terrified as ship battered by 30ft waves

Thanks in part to the effects of Storm Imogen, the River Thames overflowed onto flood plains in Greenwich, while water levels were extremely high at Embankment, and almost as high as the pavement at Charing Cross, reports the Daily Mail.

The Guardian reports that the flood alerts for Friday covered areas including Custom House in Newham, Narrow Street in Limehouse, the Royal Naval College riverfront at Greenwich, and Bankside near the Tate Modern.

With heavy rain across the south east over the last week, flows on the River Thames have increased. These high flows have coincided with spring tides (when tides are usually at their highest during the tidal cycle) so the Environment Agency closed the Thames Barrier at 11:30am on Wednesday 10 February to reduce the risk of flooding in London and along the Thames catchment.

The Thames Barrier is one of the largest moveable flood barriers in the world, protecting 125 square kilometres of central London, encompassing 1.25 million people and the infrastructure that London depends on.

It stretches 520 metres across the River Thames at Charlton and each gate takes 10 to 15 minutes to close (1 and a half hours for total closure of the barrier), and the control room is manned 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Steve East, Engineering Manager at the Thames Barrier told Aol Travel: "We are closing the barrier to protect London from the threat of flooding due to the high level of rain last week combined with high tides from the sea.

"We are urging people to check their flood risk, prepare for flooding, follow the advice from emergency services and never risk driving through flood water.

"Practical advice on preparing for flooding can be found on or by calling Floodline on 0345 9881188."

Weather sayings: True or false?

Weather sayings: True or false?

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