Malta experienced another record-breaking day of heat on Friday, as temperatures rose to 41.3°C just one day after the hottest June day on record.

The Malta Meteorological Office said that temperature around the island rose by 1°C when compared to Thursday, when temperatures of 40.2°C had made it the hottest June day since 1923, when temperature records were first kept.  

Searing temperatures affecting the Maltese islands this week had only been experienced one other time in June, on June 13, 1997. On that occasion, the temperature had reached a maximum of 40.1°C, a spokesperson for the Met Office told Times of Malta.

How long will this heatwave last?

Malta is currently experiencing a heatwave that is expected to continue through to next week, with temperatures forecast to reach 39°C over the coming days and the UV index rising to a blistering – and dangerous – 11.

Accounting for the heat stress index, temperatures outside may continue to feel as hot as 40°C.

A heatwave is defined as a maximum temperature exceeding the climatic maximum temperature of the month by 5°C for three consecutive days or more.

What is causing the heatwave?

Malta’s current heatwave is due to a high-pressure weather system persisting over the Central Mediterranean, leading to very dry conditions. This high pressure has caused a day-on-day temperature build-up, resulting in a prolonged heatwave, the Met Office said.

The wind was and, still is, still mainly light, leading to further increases in temperature,” the spokesperson added.

In the past five years, similar heatwaves were experienced between June 28 and June 30 in 2017 and between June 8 and June 10 in 2019, with the temperature exceeding 33.8°C for 12 days in the past five years.

On Tuesday, the Moderate Resolution imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an imaging sensor on board the Aqua satellite, also captured a sweeping dust plume blowing from North Africa towards Italy, which is forecast to continue travelling to further into the north of Europe this week.

To avoid the effects of the heatwave:

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun during hot periods of the day usually between 11am and 4pm.
  • Stay in the coolest parts of your home and workplace.
  • Draw curtains in rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler.
  • Drink plenty of water to replace fluids lost through sweating and eat more cold food such as salads.
  • Avoid dehydrating liquids like alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Opt for indoor physical activity or carry out your physical activity in the morning.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen, and wear a hat if you must go out.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.

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