HomeWorldHailstorm strikes Malta, northern and central areas hardest hit

Hailstorm strikes Malta, northern and central areas hardest hit

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A hailstorm struck Malta on Sunday afternoon, leaving Malta’s streets covered with a thin layer of ice.

Hail coats Republic square and the statue of Queen Victoria: Photo Daniel Cilia

Areas including Sliema, Gżira, Għargħur, Attard and Valletta were among those hit, with photos and videos of the hailstorms and leftover ice quickly spreading across social media.

The downpour was accompanied by grey clouds, wind and rain, with the Meteorological Office at Malta International Airport forecasting thundery showers on Sunday afternoon.

Photo: Stephanie MizziPhoto: Stephanie Mizzi

A spokesperson for the Met Office said northern and central areas had been hardest hit by the afternoon’s hailstorm, with the phenomenon last recorded on January 6 by the Luqa weather station.

Noting such conditions were typically caused by “high instability and thunderstorms,” she said the temperature had reached a high of 17.8°C on Sunday, over two degrees above the norm for this time of year.

Hailstones making a satisfying ‘crunch’ when stepped on.

“Rain showers are still expected for tonight [Sunday], tomorrow and tomorrow night”, the spokesperson said.

“Similar temperatures are also expected, with the maximum temperature expected to reach 17°C, while the minimum temperature is forecast to hover around 11°C.”

The icy and wet conditions marked a departure from the dry conditions seen across the country so far this winter.

Since the start of September, half of the average rainfall for the time of year was recorded in Malta, with each month much drier than usual.

The Met Office spokesperson said that last February, the country received its second-highest total precipitation on record of 181.6 mm, adding the driest February on record was in 2020, when the country received only 0.6mm of rain.

Hail piled in gardens and on balconies in Gharghur. Photo: Matthew MirabelliHail piled in gardens and on balconies in Gharghur. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Hail occurs during thunderstorms when a draught of warm air carries water droplets upwards which then freeze at high altitudes. The crystals of ice continue to grow until they become too heavy and fall to earth.

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