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THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL DRIFTS – 27th December 2008

A squall line with isolated thunderstorms crossed the Maltese Islands early this morning affecting mainly the Grand Harbour area, especially Valletta.

Although this particular line of thunderstoms that crossed the Maltese Islands from a westerly direction does NOT qualify as severe, it still caused quite a rare phenomenon here in Malta with very deep hail drifts in Valletta resembling snow drifts in some streets! The largest hail stones were only around 1.2cm to 1.5cm in size but the huge quantity of them was really impressive. Rainfall in Valletta from this storm amounted to 36.2mm.

This thunderstorm was part of a line of thunderstorms known as a squall line. There was quite a lot of instability associated with this squall line with a very moist air from 12,000 to 16,000 feet. This led to the production of lots of hail as temperatures at this level were around -10 to -20 degrees Celsius. There was also wind shear from about 5,000 feet upwards and with 60-knot winds at 35,000 feet at anvil level.

PHOTOS TAKEN BY ARIST CORDINA & METEO MALTA