Coastal areas of Lancashire felt the full force of New Year storms yesterday, but inland a second major flood in under a month was averted by inches.
While strong winds whipped up waves on the seafront in one of the highest tides of the winter, fears that parts of Preston would be left under water proved groundless . . . but only just.
The swollen River Ribble, which burst its banks at both Lower Penwortham and Samlesbury at the start of December, threatened a repeat as levels rose by around 10 metres during the morning.
Environment Agency staff, some in life jackets, stood by as the water got higher and higher. Dozens of people watched anxiously from a nearby bridge. But, with a matter of inches to spare, the lunchtime tide turned and the danger passed.
South Ribble Council staff who were on hand with sandbags for properties near the riverside - some of which were inundated during the last flood - were able to stand down.
“It seems the difference between this time and last month is the strength of the wind,” said a local resident. “Last time the water was blown over the top by stron g gusts, this time the river might be high, but it’s almost like a millpond.
“It’s a big relief because there are some round here who were flooded out in December and still have an insurance claim in for that one. We didn’t want another.”
Further west on the coast things were not so placid. Strong winds blew in from the Irish Sea, blowing waves up on to the seafront at Blackpool, Fleetwood and Morecambe. A tidal surge left St George’s Quay at Lancaster partially under water, although it was still passable with care.
While another high tide was expected late last night, the Environment Agency was able to remove some flood warnings from parts of the county, with calmer weather expected for the rest of the weekend.