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Snow storms in Malta


Malta is an island in the Mediterranean, which means it has a temperate-mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. Summer is dry and rain occurs mainly in winter. The strong winds make Malta feel colder.

Snow is almost unheard of. Due to its geographic location the climate is not cold enough, so basically there is no chance of snow in Malta.

In the past 200 years there were only few days when this miracle happened in Malta. Malta has experienced just seven snowfalls since 1858.

January 1858 – light snow without accumulation

March 1877 – light snow without accumulation

February 1895 – snow squalls without accumulation. The temperature went down to 1.2°C

January 1905 – flurries without accumulation. Snowing again for a very short time, because of the Siberian cold wind

March 1949 – snow recorded in the interior of the island. Heavy snowing for a very short time

31 January 1962 – small snowflakes on various locations. It was really snowing in Malta, 2-3 centimeters of snow covered most of the island, including the beaches, while temperature was under 0°C

31 December 2014 – small snowflakes on various locations. This instance was not officially recorded.

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Saturday 27 December 2008 – A hailstorm hit the north side of Valletta in the morning and left places in the lower St John Street area on the Marsamxett side with up to two feet of hail. The sheer quantity of hailstones left people in the area nonplussed and presented some real difficulties as people are not used to dealing with such quantities. Otherwise, children had a field day.

Meteo Malta said that a squall line with isolated thunderstorms crossed the Maltese Islands early morning affecting mainly the Grand Harbour area, especially Valletta. It said that although this particular line of thunderstorms that crossed the Maltese Islands from a westerly direction did not qualify as severe, it still caused quite a rare phenomenon here in Malta with very deep hail drifts in Valletta resembling snow drifts in some streets! The largest hail stones were only around 1.2cm to 1.5cm in size but the huge quantity of them was really impressive. Rainfall in Valletta from this storm amounted to 36.2mm. Meteo Malta said there was quite a lot of instability associated with this squall line with a very moist air from 12,000 to 16,000 feet. This led to the production of lots of hail as temperatures at this level were around -10 to -20 degrees Celsius.

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In February 2012 Italian meteorologists forecasted possibility of snow. The weather changed drastically all over Europe, but Malta at the end wasn’t affected because of the Mediterranean sea controlling the weather over the island. It was mainly only raining and occasionally a thin white carpet covering the roads.

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Tuesday, 15 January 2013 – The sunny weather suddenly changed into a hail storm and at some places snow had been reported. It started in the north, in Gozo, and quickly moved south with hail affecting several parts of the island. It then moved on to mainland Malta, first hitting Mellieha and St Paul’s Bay before the rest of the country. People reported ice cubes falling down hard, expressing worries that their cars were damaged. Residents of a particular road in Gharghur said that all their window-panes were broken with the force of the downpour including the Domus Curialis. The photos were taken in Mosta, Mgarr and Bahar ic-Caghaq

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On Tuesday 30 December 2014 Gozo woke up to winter wonderland after the Island was hit by a hailstorm overnight. There was enough hail on the roads, pavements and rooftops for children to build snowmen in Sannat, Nadur, Xaghra and Xlendi.

Thunderstorms and hail storms throughout Malta had temperatures going down to 4.8 degrees Celsius. Rainfall on 30 December 2014 reached 27.4mm, with the heaviest rainfall recorded in Gozo.

The last time temperatures went below 4˚C was on 26 December 1986 when it had dropped to 3.7˚C.

Data produced by Nadur weather station showed that the temperature actually did slip below zero for a brief moment at -0.6c during the night.

 

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On  Wednesday 31 December 2014 round 11.00 am many people in various parts of Malta reported some small snowflakes, even though snow is unknown in Malta.

The Met Office said snow had not been officially recorded but could not exclude that this was a possibility given that the low temperatures had persisted. At 11.15 am the temperature in Dingli was just over 4C, which was very low for this time of day.  This could have been very light hail but the Met Office took note, for historical purposes, of the observations people were making that they had seen snowflakes.

New Year’s Eve, 31 December 2014, saw the temperature in Malta drop to 2.8°C, the lowest December night temperature ever recorded on the islands, according to the Meteorological Office.

This coincided with a rare form of precipitation, as snow pellets were reported in various parts of the islands on 30 and 31 December 2014.

However, the coldest night ever recorded remains that of 29 January 1981, when the temperature dropped to 1.4°C.

Although the average air temperature for December 2014 was 14.9°C, 0.6°C higher than the norm, 31 December 2014 also brought the second coldest December day as temperatures dropped to 7.7°C, only one degree higher than that recorded in 1923.

The highest temperature recorded in December 2014 was 22.9°C on 1 December 2014. In total, 150.3mm of precipitation were recorded, which is considerably higher than the climate norm of 104.8mm. The highest rainfall rate was 26.4mm per hour on 30 December 2014.

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On Monday 26 January  2015 round 1600 hrs heavy rain and hail was reported in several localities particularly in the North and East of Malta, particularly San Gwann, Swieqi and Kappara.

At San Gwann a driver said cars stopped and parked for some 10 minutes because of the hazard from hail on the road.  At Birkirkara bypass another driver said the rainfall for a short while was so heavy that he could not drive.

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4 responses to “Snow storms in Malta

  1. Lesley Tucker

    January 3, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Myself and my daughter were walking along Triq it-Turisti in Qawra on 31st December 2014 at 10:30 am and we had snowflakes falling on us, didn’t think to photograph them , but they were sticking to our fleece jackets we were wearing. Silly getting excited over some snow flakes, but extremely unusual for Malta.

     
  2. Joseph Tabone

    December 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Between 1979 and 1982 at 15:00 we were walking up George Borg Oliver Street in Sliema in very cold weather when it started to snow and it did so for about 10 minutes just enough to cover the street in a white blanket of snow. It did not last long as it melted within minutes.

     
    • Maximiliano Herrera

      January 1, 2015 at 8:54 am

      January 1981 definitely. It snowed heavily in Pantelleria Island.

       
      • vassallomalta

        January 9, 2015 at 6:31 pm

        Thursday 29 January 1981. It is still the coldest night recorded in Malta. Temperature dropped to 1.4°C. However no snow was officially recorded on that day in Malta; only hail was officially recorded

         

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