THE Environment Agency has warned of a tidal surge which could bring flooding to parts of the Cumbrian coast.

Flood alerts and warnings have been issued for much of the county's coast as a result.

A warning - which indicates that flooding is expected - has been declared for the coastline stretching from Gretna to Silloth, including Port Carlisle, Skinburness and Rockcliffe.

This relates to low-lying parts of the coast immediately next the foreshore.

The same conditions have prompted a flood alert - meaning flooding is possible - for the higher ground along the same stretch of coast, and for the coast between St Bees to Millom.

In a statement issued earlier today, the Agency said the tidal surge is expected to affect the foreshore as a result of the combined effects of a high spring tides and strong winds.

Tides were expected to be at their highest between 11.15am and 11.45am.

"Flooding to properties, roads and farmland is possible at these times, however conditions may apply two to four hours either side of the high tide," said a statement from the Agency.

"Flooding is expected to affect Rockcliffe, Longburgh, Port Carlisle, Bowness-on-Solway, Anthorn, Angerton and Skinburness areas. "The Flood Warning level is also expected to be reached for the next high tide this evening.

"We are closely monitoring the situation. Please be careful along beaches, promenades, coastal footpaths and roads as large waves and sea spray could be dangerous and avoid contact with flood water. This message will be updated this afternoon, 15/11/2020, or as the situation changes."

On the St Bees situation, the Agency says: "Flooding is expected to affect low lying land, roads and coastal paths at St Bees, Coulderton, Nethertown, Braystones, Seascale, Saltcoats, Ravenglass, Annas estuary and Haverigg. We are closely monitoring the situation."

* The term spring tide has nothing to do with the season of that name. The term - also known as a a "King Tide" - refers to the 'springing forth' of the tide during new and full moon. Conversely, a neap tide - seven days after a spring tide - refers to a period of moderate tides when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other.

The Met Office in London has confirmed that in the next 24 hours there is likely to be 10mm to 20mm of rain in the county, with up to 30mm on higher ground. Overnight, there will be scattered showers - some heavy but it is expected to be dry by tomorrow morning.

The Environment Agency has issued the following guidance to help understand its system of warnings.

Flood Alerts are advanced warnings that flooding is possible, and that members of the public should be aware of the weather situation, and think ahead when planning activities and journeys:

* Coast from Gretna to Silloth

* Coast from Silloth to St. Bees

* Coast from St. Bees Head to Millom

* Coast at Duddon Estuary

* Coast at Barrow-in-Furness

* Coast at North Morecambe Bay

Flood Warnings mean that flooding is expected, and that members of the public within the warning area should take action immediately, such as operating defences if appropriate:

They are currently in force for:

* Cumbrian Coastline from Gretna to Silloth, including Port Carlisle, Skinburness and Rockcliffe

* Cumbrian Coastline at Duddon Estuary, at Haverigg to Duddon Bridge, Foxfield, Dunnerholme

* Cumbrian Coastline at North Morecambe Bay, along the coast from RooseBeck to Carnforth

Flood Alerts and Flood Warnings can overlap geographically, and members of the public should always respond to the highest level of alert. Further information on the three warning levels can be found on the .Gov website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flood-warnings-what-they-are-and-what-to-do