FORCE 11 GUSTS AT MELLIEHA – 28th November 2008

A fish farm was one of the casualties of the high winds and rough seas Friday 28th November 2008 when the cargo vessel Carl C crashed into it, while several other ships were either delayed or unable to enter Grand Harbour, among them three cruise liners. The Carl C made it to Grand Harbour at about 7.30 p.m.

These strong winds were caused by the approach of the cold front of a very intense low pressure system (central sea-level pressure 990hPa – see surface analysis chart to the right) towards the Maltese Islands. Maximum wind speed measured was 114.8km/h from a southeasterly direction at 06:58am at Mellieha. This weather station is situated on top of the Red Tower.

The 100-metre cargo ship was off Xrobb l-Għaġin carrying out engine repairs when it started dragging its two anchors and was swept onto two fish pens. Two tugboats were dispatched to assist the ship and the army and civil protection department were placed on alert. It was not immediately known how much damage, if any, was caused. Attempts to release the ship got underway in the morning and the pen was expected to be towed into harbour to assess the damage.

Port operations came to a standstill because pilots weren’t boarding ships for safety reasons, leaving the cruise liners Costa Concordia and Grand Celebration waiting outside Grand Harbour for some time. Another, the Celebrity Century, cancelled its call. The Malta Maritime Authority said another eight ships were unable to make harbour. At the Freeport, cranes couldn’t be operated because of the strong wind. The police said no accidents as a result of the weather conditions were reported.