Malta’s terrible Grigal strikes again
So many things happened yesterday - Italy’s terrible earthquake, a quake near Malta and then an explosion in a Gudja field that echoed the explosion today week when the small plane crashed – that people would be justified to forget Saturday’s awful Grigal.
Yesterday’s papers were full of pictures from the storm and perhaps we fail to give due importance to what it implied.
As a storm, Saturday’s Grigal was far from the first league of storms in Malta. To date, and unless contradicted, the pride of place still remains the Bush-Gorbachev summit Grigal in 1989 but you will still find some who aver that worse than that was the Grigal tal-Kuncizzjoni on 8 December 1988. Others point to storms in 1979, or 2005 as being bad ones. Whatever. Malta may seem at most times a pleasant place, perhaps too hot for many, and with too much sun. But it can also get really bad storms, not much different from hurricanes.
It is consoling that bad as it was on Saturday, no lives were lost nor great damage caused. One has to congratulate the Police Force and the Civil Protection Department for timely and professional work all through the storm as well as Enemalta personnel who braved the storm.
It was only people who rashly left their boats anchored in bays that were exposed to the full force of the Grigal who have themselves to blame when their boats became driftwood on the shores.
The scenes of people forlornly picking through the driftwood yesterday at Xemxija was indeed a sad scene.
The worst hit, it would seem, was the Radisson Hotel in St Julian’s where the raging sea crashed through the windows and burst into the main ballroom and other areas of the hotel.
This may have been the worst storm to hit the hotel since it was built and the owners would do well to plan corrective measures to be undertaken with all urgency.
Otherwise, the roads held and people still went about their business as usual. In other times, people would have cowered indoors and prayed to their saints for protection. While shipping may have stopped for the duration of the storm, the Gozo Channel connections did not stop but kept going. Though this may well be because the NorthEast wind, the Grigal, is not usually effective between Malta and Gozo. This area is more subject to the equally bad South-West winds and currents (Lbic).
Nor did the airport see any interruption in its business.
Again, this is thanks to the professionalism of all involved from Civil Aviation to the pilots of the planes themselves. It is no joke to bring a 737 down in a Grigal. The country must remember it must be prepared to face up to storms, winds and floods.
It pays to be prepared.