The Netherlands and Britain closed sea defence barriers, airlifted hundreds of North Sea oil rig workers and evacuated thousands of people as wind-driven storm swells coincided with high tides.
The Dutch coast and the east of England were hit in the early hours of Friday, but no major flooding was reported and North Sea oil production was starting up again.
Dutch authorities on Friday afternoon cancelled surge warnings for most sectors of the coast.
The storm barrier near Rotterdam began reopening on Friday evening, allowing shipping at Europe's biggest port, a major transit point for oil and other commodities, to resume.
In Hamburg, Germany's largest port and second largest city, the fish market and other low-lying parts of the harbour area were under more than 3 metres of water in the early afternoon but the water was expected to recede by the evening.
Ferry services to several North Sea islands from mainland Germany were also stopped by the winds gusting up to 115 kilometres per hour.
The oil and gas workers were airlifted from North Sea platforms after forecasters predicted 20-metre (66 foot) waves in the open sea and strong winds. At least nine platforms producing several hundred thousands barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) were shut down.
StatoilHydro, the biggest operator in the Norwegian part of the North Sea, said on Friday that production had been hit less than feared and fields were restarting.
In Britain, police said flood defences had been breached in Great Yarmouth, but there was no danger to homes.
Dutch officials reported minimal flooding after water levels peaked at 3.16 metres above mean sea level on the south coast. Floods in 1953, that killed over 2,000 people, peaked at 3.85 metres in the Netherlands and 3.28 metres in Britain.
A spokesman for Britain's Environment Agency said Friday's tides peaked at 2.75 metres above normal compared with fears they would reach 3 metres.
Police in Norfolk said people in 7,500 homes in the Great Yarmouth area had been advised to leave and more than 200 elderly residents were evacuated from care homes. ( Reuters )