In his Bad Signal email journal, Warren Ellis explained what the various levels of flood warning mean:
The Essex coast, from Clacton down to my town of Southend, has just been upgraded from Flood Watch to Flood Warning. This is because there's a three and a half metre tidal wave coming off the North Sea at us like the great cleansing tentacle of Cthulhu.
(I nearly wrote "great cleansing testicle" there. Which would have been funnier, but I don't know if Cthulhu has one of those.)
Checking the flood maps, it appears that my initial estimate was right, and our house is high enough to avoid trouble (the land banks up sharply from the seafront, and we're almost a mile back).
If it comes in as hard as is currently being expected, though, Norfolk and Suffolk look like getting the worst. I'm hoping Southwold doesn't get the pounding the maps suggest -- it has a very deep beach -- but the predictions say that some of my favourite places in East Anglia are in for a hard time. I'd hope that if you're in the area and you're reading this, you've either checked the flood maps and know you'll be fine, or you're waiting on a car to get the fuck out of Dodge.
Jesus. According to the map of the Yare region, if you're in Southtown then you're probably already dead. I love this BBC lede:
"The environment secretary has urged people to keep calm, amid warnings of "extreme danger" as a tidal surge approaches England's east coast." And from the environment secretary: "And it's really important, keep away from the sea because as well as the storm surge there will also be waves and this is dangerous and people need to keep away from it."
BBC provides an explanation of the levels of watery horror:
Flood Watch - Flooding of low lying land and roads is expected. Be aware, be prepared, watch out!
Flood Warning - Flooding of homes and businesses is expected. Act now!
Severe Flood Warning - Severe flooding is expected. There is extreme danger to life and property. Act now!
So Flood Watch means watch, you're being flooded. Flood Warning means you stupid bastard, there's water everywhere, and Severe Flood Warning means you're cleaning Cthulhu's testicles down at full fathom five right now so how can you possibly be reading this?
I'm off to turn the cats into sandbags. Just in case.