SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS – 2nd/3rd September 2012
A 39-year-old man was killed by a lightning bolt as the third severe thunderstorm hit Malta in less than 24 hours. The incident happened in a field in Marsascala.
The man was in a field with a 25-year-old man. The two had been out hunting when the incident happened at about 4pm. As soon as the incident happened, the second man rushed out to the road shouting for help, and came across the victim’s brother.
The victim rushed to Saint James Hospital, Zabbar, but was dead on arrival. the men who had accompanied him was slightly injured and described the incident as “like a bomb exploding next to us”.
A woman also fell a height of one storey when the was dragged by the water after she got out of her car, a Toyota Vitzm in Sta Venera. The woman, 34 of Zejtun, was rescued and was being treated in hospital. Her condition was serious.
There were three severe thunderstorms in 24 hours causing a lot of damage and dumping a total of 96.1mm of rain on the Maltese islands over a period of 24 hours. However, some localities had even more rainfall: Qormi 162.7mm and Msida 152.3mm.
Damaging microburst winds occurred during the first storm on Sunday evening and a waterspout was also filmed off Dingli Cliffs on Monday afternoon. There were also unconfirmed reports of large hail in various localities. The first storm was an MCS while the third was a supercell. The highest gust measured was at Mellieha with 88.8km/h at 3:52pm on the 3rd from the south. A lower gust of 85.1km/h at 7:32pm from the west at the same location on the previous day was also measured.
Streets were flooded in several localities particularly in Birkirkara, Msida and Qormi, but also in other areas such as Bir Id-Deheb, Bulebel and Burmarrad. The Civil Protection Department deployed all its units to assist people in low-lying areas whose homes were flooded or whose cars were carried away by the torrents, particularly in Birkirkara. Cars were also carried by the rainwater in Birkirkara Road, St Julian’s. Uprooted trees and broken tree branches were reported outside Mdina and in Notary Zarb Street, Attard.
Cold air penetrating the central Mediterranean triggered the development of thunder clouds which, finding a very warm Mediterranean Sea with a lot of available moisture, grew rapidly into large thunderstorms with copious rainfall and strong wind gusts.