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SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS – 24th December 2006

On 24th December 2006, in the morning, severe thunderstorms caused some havoc in Malta with heavy rain showers and flooding in the usual low-lying areas of Malta. Strong lightning and large hail was also present in various localities. Hail at least one inch in size (see photo) fell in Gzira damaging some cars parked there. There was also a report of a funnel cloud close to the airport. Gusts of 82km/h were recorded at Zebbug and 88.5km/h at Mellieha.

The storms were caused due to strong wind shear and very moist and unstable air over the Maltese Islands. A warm and moist surface southeasterly airflow together with a drier and cool upper air flow contributed to this severe weather. The wind shear situation was in fact very similar to that found in the USA in spring. CAPE readings were over 900J/kg with a lifted index of -4.6 (click on sounding to the right).

PHOTOS TAKEN BY ANDREI ATTARD, JAMES DELMAR AND IVAN BARTOLO