Weather in Malta
Malta Weather Readings
Given our island’s strategic location, correct observations of the weather in Malta have always been important. However, rainfall records only date back to 1851, while temperature recordings reach back to 1865.
Most Malta weather readings were made in a one mile radius from Valletta, although in 1901 (until 1966) rainfall and temperature readings fell under the remittance of the Department of Physics at the University of Malta.
The first meteorological office actually opened in 1922 and was located in Guardamangia, moving to St John’s Cavalier just five years later. The weather forecast Malta so depended on during the Second World War actually moved underground with the Services Operation Staff since instruments and equipment were often damaged by enemy air raids.
It wasn’t until 1943 that observation and forecasting stations moved to Luqa, with the Meteorological Office fully falling under the civil aviation’s remit in 1979.
Many of the problems that dogged those first Malta weather observers do not apply today. Modern technology, satellites and computers provide a detailed and accurate picture of the weather in Malta, allowing constant updates and careful tracking of weather systems.
The average yearly temperature is around 23 °C (73 °F) during the day and 16 °C (61 °F) at night (one of the warmest temperature averages in Europe). In the coldest month – January – the typical maximum temperature ranges from 12 to 20 °C (54 to 68 °F) during the day and the minimum from 7 to 12 °C (45 to 54 °F) at night. In the warmest month – August – the typical maximum temperature ranges from 28 to 34 °C (82 to 93 °F) during the day and the minimum from 20 to 24 °C (68 to 75 °F) at night.
Generally, the summer/holiday season lasts around 8 months, starting from around mid-April with temperatures from 19–23 °C (66–73 °F) during the day and 13–14 °C (55–57 °F) at night, and ending in November with temperatures from 17–23 °C (63–73 °F) during the day and 11–20 °C (52–68 °F) at night. However even in the remaining 4 months of the year temperatures sometimes reach 20 °C (68 °F). Amongst all capitals in the continent of Europe, Valletta – the capital of Malta has the warmest winters, with average temperatures of around 16 °C (61 °F) during the day and 10 °C (50 °F) at night in the months of January and February. In March and December average temperatures are around 17 °C (63 °F) during the day and 11 °C (52 °F) at night.The average number of days above 32 °C (89.6 °F) is 15, most of which occur during July and August. In Malta large fluctuations in temperature are rare. Also, Malta is one of the few places in Europe which is “green” all year round (vegetation does not die during the winter).
Malta enjoys one of the most optimal number of hours of daylight in Europe. Days in winter are not as short as in the northern part of the continent, the average hours of daylight in December, January and February is 10.3 hours (for comparison: London or Moscow or Warsaw – about 8 hours). The shortest day of the year – 21 December – sunrise is around 7:00 and sunset is around 17:00. The longest day of the year – 21 June – sunrise is around 5:30 and sunset is around 20:30.
As one might expect from Malta’s high daylight hours, Malta enjoys around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year (also one of the highest in Europe), from an average of above 5 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of above 12 hours of sunshine per day in July. Thus, Malta enjoys about twice the amount of sunshine as cities in the northern half of Europe. For comparison, London has 1,461 hours per year; however, in winter Malta has much more sunshine. For comparison, London has 37 hours while Malta has 161 hours of sunshine in December
Average annual temperature of sea is 20 °C (68 °F) (the highest annual sea temperature in Europe), from 15–16 °C (59–61 °F) in the period from January to April to 26 °C (79 °F) in August. In the 6 months from June to November, the average sea temperature exceeds 20 °C (68 °F). In May and December – the transition months – the average is around 18 °C (64 °F).
In the second half of April, which is the beginning of the summer/holiday season the average sea temperature is 17 °C (63 °F). The highest sea temperature is 27 °C (81 °F) in the middle-3rd week of August. In late August and early September the temperature drops to 26 °C (79 °F), and in the second half of September it drops to 25 °C (77 °F). Around mid-October it drops to 24 °C (75 °F), and during the last week of October it drops to 23 °C (73 °F). By early November the temperature drops to 22 °C (72 °F).
Water supply poses a problem on Malta, as the summer is both rainless and the time of greatest water use, and the winter rainfall often falls as heavy showers running off to the sea rather than soaking into the ground. Malta depends on underground reserves of fresh water, drawn through a system of water tunnels called the Ta’ Kandja galleries, which average about 97 m below surface and extend like the spokes of a wheel. In the galleries in Malta’s porous limestone, fresh water lies in a lens upon brine. More than half the potable water of Malta is produced by desalination, which creates further issues of fossil fuel use and pollution.
Malta has an average of 90 precipitation days a year, and experiences from a few to a dozen rainy days per month (≥ 1 mm), ranging from 0.5 of a day in July to around 15 in December. The average annual precipitation is around 600 mm, ranging from ~0.3 mm in July to ~110 mm in December.
The annual average relative humidity is 73%, ranging from 65% in July (morning: 78% evening: 53%) to 78% in December (morning: 83% evening: 73%).
Despite the relative stasis of the Maltese climate, historical records present some variations. In the capital city of Valletta, meteorological officials of the time recorded a temperature of 1.2 °C (34.2 °F) on 19 February 1895, which remains a record for the city. Regarding the island as a whole, a temperature of −1.7 °C (28.9 °F) was recorded on 1 February 1962, at Ta’ Qali airfield, in the centre of the island, which was pelted first by frozen precipitation (hail), and later in the day covered by snowfall that lasted through the night, though this temperature is not recognised by the Malta Met Office as it was not an official recording station and didn’t use worldwide meteorological standard instruments.
Snow, which is virtually unheard of, is officially on the record books of the past 200 years as having occurred in
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.
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 lowest temperature ever recorded at Luqa International Airport was on 29 January 1981, with 1.4 °C (34.5 °F), and the highest temperature was 43.8 °C (110.8 °F) recorded in August 1999.