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Weathermen whip up a storm

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Top meteorologists are planning to digitally plunge Britain into weather-induced peril. A £5.5m Met Office supercomputing project will test Britain's defences against violent storm surges.

The hotch-potch of crumbling sea walls that stand between us and a reenactment of Kevin Costner's Waterworld will be pushed to their limits in the simulation.

Heriot-Watt University professor Garry Pender told The Guardian: “You have to do these tests. If you hear a storm surge bigger than you've ever seen is on its way, you want to know you can cope with it.”

The silicon storm will ape the conditions experienced last November, when a storm sent a wall of water up the Thames. Fortunately for Londoners, it hit during a low neap tide and had no impact. However, the electronic version will be set in 2015 when a 25 year high spring tide will arrive September 30. The surge will top out at 3.5m.

The weather watchers will add some extra spice in the form of strong northerly winds that will batter river banks.

The idea behind the wheeze is to test whether the Met Office's artificial intelligence can foresee storm surges, and how different agencies interact in the face of a crisis. More from the Guardian here. ®

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