Tidal surges continuing today in U.K.

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LONDON — Hundreds of people in Britain mopped up flooded homes on Friday after a powerful storm, which scoured northern Europe with hurricane-force gusts, kicked up the biggest tidal surge in 60 years, swamping stretches of shoreline.

The rising seas prompted evacuations along the eastern English coast, with 1,400 properties flooded and at least a half-dozen communities at great risk of exceptionally high tides and large waves.

In London, the Thames Barrier — a series of huge metal plates that can be raised across the entire river — closed for a second time in as many days to protect the city from the surge.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said there would be "exceptionally high tides" Friday and today, though they were not expected to reach Thursday's levels, when water swamped seaside promenades and flooded homes. In the town of Hemsby in eastern England, several houses fell into the sea as waves eroded cliffs.

Britain's Environment Agency said that sea levels late Thursday in some areas exceeded those in a 1953 flood in which hundreds died. But flood defenses and evacuation warnings meant that only two people were killed in storm-related accidents.

Accidents linked to Thursday's storm have killed at least eight people across northern Europe.

Traffic ground to a halt on icy highways and train service was canceled in large parts of Sweden. Tens of thousands of people lost electricity. Strong winds knocked down the city of Vaxjo's Christmas tree.

Scores of flights were canceled at airports in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Poland. More than 1,000 people spent the night at Copenhagen airport where 200 flights were canceled Thursday and about 70 on Friday.

Strong winds threatened an exhibition of Viking ships recovered from the bottom of a Danish fjord in the 1960s. Museum workers boarded up the expansive windows of the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde 25 miles west of Copenhagen amid fears water from the fjord would rise and shatter the glass.

Police in Denmark ordered the evacuation of people in the towns of Frederikssund and Frederiksvaerk, 25 miles northeast of Copenhagen, because of imminent flooding. The towns lie on the Roskilde fjord, where water levels have risen noticeably.

Tidal floods that hit Hamburg in the early morning were akin to those that drenched the city in 1962, causing the worst flooding in living memory. But higher and better coastal defenses along the North Sea these days meant the impact of this week's storm on the city was negligible, with no reports of major damage or loss of life.

Meanwhile, wind farms in Germany reaped benefits. At 1 p.m. local time the country's vast network of on- and offshore wind turbines produced 25,205.8 MW of electricity — the equivalent of 25 nuclear plants and almost 35 percent of the country's total energy output that hour.