Gusts of wind reached the force 12 speed of 133km/h during Sunday’s storm, Malta’s meteorological office told Times of Malta.
The breakneck wind gusts were recorded at 4am on Sunday morning at a Valletta weather station – the same station which recorded the highest hourly average wind speed of 52.8 knots (98 km/h) just one hour earlier, between 2am and 3am.
According to the Beaufort Scale, winds faster than 118km/h are classified as Force 12, or hurricane level.
Winds ranging between 89 and 102 km/h, which is the range in which most of Sunday's wind fit, fall into the force 10, or storm, category.
Almost 50mm of rain – 47.6mm to be precise – poured down on Malta during the storm. That was more than half of all the rain Malta received in February so far, and meant February 2019 has been significantly wetter than the monthly average.
The wind and rain misery was compounded by near-freezing temperatures, meteorological data indicated, with thermometers in Dingli going down to 1.7 degrees Celsius at 7.10pm. Luqa residents got the warmest weather, with temperatures rising to maximums of 15.6 degrees on Saturday and 11.3 degrees on Sunday.
By the numbers
Fastest gusts of wind: 133km/h
Highest hourly average wind speed: 98km/h
Precipitation: 47.6mm (82.8mm in February so far)
Lowest temperature: 1.7°C
Highest temperature: 11.3°C
What caused the storm?
The weekend’s storm was the result of a depression, or low-pressure system, forming over Greece. This then moved over northern Libya and extended towards the Maltese islands. Meanwhile, a high-pressure system – an anticyclone – spread over western and central Europe, extending towards Algeria.
When those two contrasting systems met, winds picked up and the weather became unstable. The larger-than-usual differences in pressure and size added to the instability, a Malta International Airport representative explained.
What will the weather be like in the coming days?
You can expect more wind on Wednesday and Saturday, though the Force 6 north-west winds projected will be significantly lower than the storm winds Malta experienced this past weekend.
Other days are expected to be stable, with partly cloudy weather and temperatures ranging from daytime maximums of 17 degrees to night time lows of 7 degrees.
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