Mild December brings fifth driest year on record to a close
Last year was the fifth driest on record since 1923, and although it started with chilly temperatures and two hail storms in January it ended on a warmer note, with slightly higher-than-average temperatures in December, the Meteorological office at the Malta International Airport reported yesterday.
A quick look at last year’s weather trends shows that throughout the year, air temperatures varied between a minimum of 5.9°C and a maximum of 37.5°C.
Standing at 18.9°C, December’s average sea temperature was inviting enough for a swim and fell somewhere in between the warmest average for the year last August, 25.7°C, and the coolest in March, 15.9°C. December’s air temperatures were also quite warm, maintaining an average of 17.1°C throughout.
These unseasonably warm temperatures were not always accompanied by sunshine. In fact, the sun failed to make an appearance on four days in December. Moreover, with 151.6 hours of sunshine recorded, the month was slightly duller than normal for this time of year.
The bleakest and wettest month in 2016 was November, with 150.1 hours of sunshine and 90mm of rain recorded. The month also accounted for 11 thundery days out of a total of 28 instances heard last year.
On the other end of the spectrum, July was the brightest and driest month, bathing the island in 370.8 hours of glorious sunshine and a mere 0.4mm of rain. This month was also the calmest, with meteorological records showing that winds blew at a mean speed of 7.2 knots. In contrast, April was the most windswept month, battered by gusts that maintained a mean speed of 10.9 knots.
The total precipitation for December fell 44mm short of the 104.8mm expected for this month and brought to a close a year that was marked by a shortage of rain. With rainfall levels amounting to just 324.8mm, 2016 became the fifth driest year on record since 1923.