WIRRAL council says it has an emergency plan in place amid fears that the borough could be hit by a tidal surge later today.

Gale force winds that created a surge that left a swathe of destruction across the borough's coastal towns on December 5 are set to return.

With winds expected to reach 70 or 80 miles per hour today communities across the North West are urged to prepare for possible coastal flooding with concerns that there could be a repeat of last month's devastation.

The Environment Agency is warning coastal communities along the south and west coasts of England to remain vigilant and alert for possible tidal flooding between Friday and Sunday, as strong winds combine with high tides and large waves.

David Armstrong, Wirral council's assistant chief executive said: "We have an emergency plan in place and are working closely with our partners including Merseyside Police and the Environment Agency.

"The Council’s Community Patrol officers are ensuring that businesses at Marine Point in New Brighton and West Kirby promenade are aware of the weather forecast so that they can take the necessary precautions.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation and are ready to react promptly should the high tides cause any issues."

The Environment Agency has warned that it could lead to localised spray and wave over-topping at exposed coastal locations and promenades, and the risk of flooding to properties and low lying land.

Agency teams will be working around the clock to check flood defences and close tidal gates.

Further flood alerts, meaning be aware of possible flooding, and some flood warnings, which mean take action to prepare for flooding, are likely to be issued.

Natural Resources Wales, the organisation which leads on flooding in Wales, is also warning of potential flooding from high tides and strong winds.

With the ground saturated and river levels high, there remains a continued risk of river and surface water flooding across south, south west and north west England.

Craig Woolhouse, the Environment Agency's head of flood incident Management, said: "Strong winds and large waves along the west and south coasts of England are forecast between Friday and Sunday, coinciding with high tides.

"Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities.

"Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.

"The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities.

"Environment Agency teams are out on the ground making sure that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood alerts and warnings.

"People should check the Environment Agency website or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood outlook, and sign up to receive free flood warnings."

A spokesman for Merseyside Coastguard said: "There is a possibility that this could be as bad as the storms of December 5 and there is a flood alert.

"Therefore, our advice to the public would be to stay away from coastal areas and not be tempted to go and look at the waves."

The Mersey Ferries are currently running as normal.