Residents in parts of east of England have been warned that 95 mph winds could on Thursday deliver the coast its worst battering in decades.
“Gale-force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides and a significant coastal surge,” explained Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency.
“Flooding of some coastal communities is expected and some defenses could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a tidal surge.”
Forecasters are worried that that sea levels could be as high as in the floods of 1953, in which 326 people died in eastern counties of England and Scotland.
Train operators expect delays to services as winds sweep in from the arctic.
The Met Office has issued weather warnings for parts of Scotland and northern England with storms forecast over the next 48 hours.
The North Sea coast is expected to be worst hit, with residents from Northumberland down to Kent braced for flooding.
High water levels are also expected on the west coast from Cumbria to Cheshire.