Gale-force winds, hailstorm batter Malta

Gale-force winds, hailstorm batter Malta

Updated 8.30pm with more images

A hail storm and thunder lashed across Malta on Saturday afternoon ahead of forecast north-easterly winds which threaten to reaching speeds of up to 88km per hour.

Pembroke. Photo: Pierre GattPembroke. Photo: Pierre Gatt

The bad weather started on Saturday afternoon with isolated showers developing into hail storms and the odd thundery spell. Temperatures are expected to dip to lows of six degrees Celsius and as the evening turns to night, the winds are expected to pick up speed, reaching force 8 and 9 in the early hours of Sunday.

Motorists have been advised to proceed with caution as a hail storm blanketed roads, potentially causing danger. Though flooding has been reported in several parts of the island, the police said no major incidents had been reported by 6pm.

The afternoon’s FA Trophy quarter final match between Pieta and Gżira United was abandoned at the 89th minute with the score at 1-1 while the horse racing was also abandoned midway through.

Though such a storm is not unseasonal, the temperature is actually warmer in a number of northern European countries.

Force 9 winds are classified as a strong or severe gale on the Beaufort Scale, which could result in slight damages to buildings and structures. A representative of Malta International Airport, which hosts the meteorological office, said that the gale force winds would be accompanied by thundery showers and possibly hail.

Two children in Swieqi built their own version of a snowman. Photo: Franco PortelliTwo children in Swieqi built their own version of a snowman. Photo: Franco Portelli
The scene in Swieqi. Photo: Luke BaldacchinoThe scene in Swieqi. Photo: Luke Baldacchino
Hail over Cospicua.Hail over Cospicua.

That forecast was echoed by weather site WindFinder, which as of yesterday evening predicted gusts of wind reaching force 10 levels – 49 knots – at times. 

gale force winds hailstorm batter malta 4 - Gale-force winds, hailstorm batter Malta

The violent weather is expected to subside somewhat as the progresses tomorrow, with winds veering east-northeast and moderation to force six or seven for the rest of the day. 

Temperatures throughout the day will hit lows of seven degrees Celsius, with highs only slightly above that, at11 degrees. 

North-easterly winds are especially concerning to mariners with vessels in areas like Marsamxett Harbour, the Grand Harbour or St Paul’s Bay, and the spectre of very rough gregale winds had many boat owners scrambling to get their vessels to safety yesterday. 

Their concerns were lent credence by the Malta Meteorological Office, which on Friday evening issued a gregale advisory notice to mariners, warning them of very rough seas tonight and on Sunday as a low pressure zone over the Ionian sea extends over the Maltese islands.

Zejtun. Photo: Jean Paul BonniciZejtun. Photo: Jean Paul Bonnici

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Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg

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