Malta was hotter and drier than average in 2019, in a year that will be remembered for its weather extremes.

February’s violent storm, which wreaked havoc across the country, was followed by the stormiest May in decades and the hottest June on record.

According to official records kept by the Meteorological Office at Malta International Airport, February was the second-coldest month since 1923 with the temperature dropping to 3.7°C on the night of the 23rd. The data is valid until December 18, 2019.

Overall, the weather was slightly warmer and drier than the norm, the Met Office said, with the annual temperature 0.4°C higher than usual and rainfall reaching 536.2mm, slightly below the usual of 567mm.

As the temperature plummeted in February, strong northeast winds reaching 100 kilometres an hour, coupled with huge waves battered Malta and Gozo, uprooting trees, causing flooding and structural damage to buildings and boats. Farmers were the worst hit as crops were destroyed while the summer fruits harvest was the lowest in years.

Hundreds of fish were washed ashore after a violent storm in February. Photo: Jonathan BorgHundreds of fish were washed ashore after a violent storm in February. Photo: Jonathan Borg

It transpires that these winds were the strongest since February 4, 1955 which holds the all-time record at 130 kilometres per hour.

The inclement weather dragged on into May, which took Malta by storm with no fewer than six thunderstorms, six times the norm for this month of the year.

Such uncharacteristic weather meant that May 2019 was the stormiest since 1951.

However, come June, the records were shattered on the opposite end of the scale with a blistering 37.8°C recorded on the ninth day of the month during the first of two heatwaves experienced last year. Temperatures remained above the norm for most of the month, which ended up as the hottest June since 1923.

The record-breaking heat mirrored the situation in the rest of Europe, which according to the World Meteorological Organisation experienced the hottest June ever, as the average temperature exceeded the norm by 2°C.

Sunbathers in Mellieħa shelter from the hottest June on record. Photo: Chris Sant FournierSunbathers in Mellieħa shelter from the hottest June on record. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Shy of the 40°C mark, the highest temperature in 2019 was recorded on July 9 when the mercury column soared to 39.6°C during the second and last heatwave of the year.

Monthly sea surface temperatures were warmer than average except for May, during which it was 0.1°C cooler than the norm.

November was the wettest month of the year with a total of 107.4mm followed by January which accounted for the highest precipitation in the first month of the year since 2011. On the other hand, March, April, June, August, September and December were drier than the average climatic norm.

During 2019, a total of 47 thunderstorms were reported, with the stormiest month being October with 11 occurrences.    

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