During severe storms in early January and over the past week, many coastal locations have been battered by large waves.
A significant amount of shingle has been washed away by the waves at the Preston Beach Sea Defence Scheme, to the East of Weymouth.
A number of severe flood warnings have been issued since Christmas 2013 due to the washing away of the shingle beach allowing the waves to run up and over the sea wall and the road has been closed to avoid risk to life from waves laden with shingle hitting vehicles.
Completed in 1996 to offer protection to the A353 and some 30 properties at Lodmoor and Overcombe, the scheme has a promenade and sea wall, fronted by imported shingle which acts as a buffer to wave energy.
Prior to January the beach was approximately 15 metres wide but the storms over Christmas and New Year reduced the beach to a width of 3 metres in places.
During January, between storms, local Environment Agency (EA) operations teams, supported by Environment Agency staff from the Midlands recovered material which has been lost off the beach. This work has had to be repeated several times up until the extreme storm on 5 February 2014 when the foundations in front of the promenade were exposed.
The Environment Agency mobilised a contractor to carry out emergency reinforcement of the beach crest using rock armour from Portland placed down the beach in front of the promenade to protect the foundations.
By agreement of the relevant authorities the beach and promenade will be closed during times of plant operation to ensure public safety.
In spite of the storm damage, the scheme remains an effective sea defence point although the road will be closed to traffic when waves threaten to overtop.
The Environment Agency plans to hold a local meeting to explain operational priorities, to share information and to seek feedback on flood warning(s) from the local community.
Press Release, February 11, 2014