11th December


SEVERE THUNDERSTORM – 11th December 2008

A vigorous cold front passing over the Maltese Islands this morning caused heavy rainfall, very strong gusts and hail 1cm large in Dingli. This cold front was part of a deep low pressure system (central sea-level pressure 998hPa centred over the Tyrrhenian Sea). Rainfall at Balzan was 29.8mm till 5pm. Thunderstorms were moving SSE-NNW. Maximum gusts were the following: 83.7km/h at Zebbug Malta, 111.0km/h at Mellieha and 99.9km/h at Mgarr Malta at 11:15am during a severe thunderstorm (this reading is now confirmed). Hail 1 inch (2.5cm) in size was also  confirmed from the same storm at Rabat. The large hail broke a number of feast lights. Lots of moisture was present in the atmosphere at all levels together with a speed shear as can be seen in the sounding of 10am to the left.

A wall collapsed at San Gwann, shipping movements were halted at Malta Freeport, and flooding was reported in several localities as heavy rain fell over Malta today in between strong gusts of wind. A spokesman for the Civil Protection Department said that rescuers were called out to help as many cars stalled, particularly in Msida, Birkirkara and Marsascala. The police this afternoon issued warnings urging drivers to avoid Birkirkara and Msida valleys.Fire engines were called to several localities to pump water out of flooded homes.

Trees in a number of localities were broken by the wind. At Marsaxlokk, fishermen stayed awake all night as several boats slipped their moorings but no serious damage was caused. At one time traffic could not pass throught Burmarrad due to the flood waters present.