A cold Arctic air mass is extending towards the Mediterranean, bringing with it temperatures feeling as cold as 0°C on Valentine's night, the Meteorological Office has warned.

The extreme cold is extending towards most of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Libya and will cover Malta for at least the middle of next week.

Saturday is forecast to be partly cloudy in the morning, becoming rather cloudy with isolated showers.

Rather strong to strong (force five to six) westerly winds are expected to pick up speed during the day to reach force six to seven and change direction by evening. This shift to a northwesterly direction is expected to lead to a considerable drop in temperature overnight.

The chill will set in on Valentine's Day on Sunday, with the actual temperature forecast to range between a low of 4°C to 5°C and a high of 12°C, and a real feel temperature of 9°C during the day and around 0°C during the night.  

These low temperatures are expected to persist in the coming week, with very cold northerly winds set to blow until Wednesday, keeping air temperatures for the first three days of the week in the range of 4°C and 12°C. 

According to Met Office records, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Malta was 1.4°C. on the 29th of January 1981.

January weather

Overnight thunderstorms and 14.2 mm of precipitation measured on the second day in January made for a wet and stormy start to 2021. 

But although the year may have started with a splash, January’s total precipitation - which amounted to 70.4 mm - did not measure up to the average quota of 92.9 mm of rainfall. 

Apart from being drier than the climate norm, the month was also warmer than expected at this time of year. Averaging at 14.1°C, the air temperature for the month surpassed the climate norm by 1.4°C, while the mean sea surface temperature exceeded the norm of 15.8°C by 1.3°C.  

The highest air temperature was recorded nine days into January, when the mercury hit 25.8°C.

Having surpassed the previous record high for the month by 3°C, this maximum air temperature became the new highest temperature for January on the Maltese islands since 1923.

January’s hottest day was followed by an overcast Sunday, which was marked by a complete absence of sunshine.

However, having gone over the sunshine quota for January by almost 14 hours, a total of 176.3 sunshine hours measured during the month made up for this bleak day. Additionally, the cloud cover for January averaged at 4.2 oktas rather than the climate norm of 4.4.

The month’s wind speed averaged at 10.8 knots, with a maximum gust of 44 knots blowing from a westerly direction making January 17 a particularly blustery day. The day also yielded the month’s lowest air temperature of 5.9°C, which was reached again on January 20.

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