Storm surge gates begin to reopen in the Netherlands

Storm surge gate HollandseIJsselkering shut to shipping traffic
The towers of the storm surge gate HollandseIJsselkering were lit red to signify it was inaccessible to shipping traffic. January 3, 2018.. (photo: Rijkswaterstaat/ RWS West NL Zuid / Twitter)

The five major storm surge gates in the Netherlands were scheduled to progressively reopen after to . The inflatable rubber dam Ramspol was the first to open back up, already deflated Wednesday night after the storm.

It was still closed to water traffic on Thursday morning due to currents, and infrastructure authority Rijkswaterstaat said the dam could be inflated again to further protect Flevoland and Overijssel on Thursday night. The HollandscheIJsselkering was opened back up by 10:45 a.m. after water levels subsided. Meanwhile, the nine-kilometer Oosterschederkering was expected to be open at about 7 p.m.

The Maeslantkering, one of the three largest moving structures in the world, was slated to open by 9 p.m. along with the Hartelkering. Those two gates, completed in 1997, were also the last two to close during Wednesday's storm.

It was the first time all five gates were closed at the same time since construction on the storm protection projects completed. The water levels were largely expected to return to manageable levels by Thursday evening, allowing the barriers to be reopened. Concerns persisted over rising river levels later in January, which authorities said they would closely monitor.