Malta had its wettest February day on record after Storm Helios hit on Thursday, the Met Office has said.

Data from the national weather service shows that 140.4mm of rainfall was measured at its Luqa station. It beat the previous record of 123.7mm on 19 February 1938.

Rainfall was widespread, causing damage across the island, including to many historic locations such as Cittadella ditch in Gozo, the Bighi peninsula wall and a 17th-century watchtower in Għajn Tuffieħa.

A spokesperson for the Met Office said the average rainfall for February is 65.9mm, meaning Malta saw more than double the average monthly precipitation in just 24 hours. 

As of noon on Friday, the total amount of rain to fall in Malta this February stood at 159.8mm.

How did it compare to the 2019 storm?

Prior to Thursday's storm, meteorologists had warned that Malta could experience similar conditions to a 2019 gregale storm which battered the country with wind gusts reaching 133km/h.

Met Office data provided on Friday showed how the two storms differed. 

The February 23, 2019 storm saw winds reach higher speeds of up to 54 knots, versus the 44.9 knots maximum measured during Thursday's storm.

But there was no comparison when it came to rainfall: in 2019, the country saw 38.4mm of rain. At 140.4mm, Thursday's storm dumped more than three times as much water on the country.  

Following an evening of intense wind and rainfall, Malta started to clear up the damage caused by Storm Helios on Friday, which battered the country on Thursday and led the authorities to urge people to stay indoors.

What does the weather look like for the weekend?

It is expected to see rain, possibly accompanied by hail, overnight.

During the weekend, the weather will be a bit cloudy and the wind will continue to decrease from Saturday, blowing from the Northeast direction and becoming force 3 to 4 (light to moderate). 

On Sunday, the wind will blow from the Northwest and will be light to moderate. The weather is expected to continue to improve throughout the coming week. 

All of the Met Office’s marine warnings will be withdrawn as of Saturday, with slight to moderate sea and low or negligible swell expected.

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