The Malta Independent 22 May 2018, Tuesday

Bathed in sunshine, not in rain: January brighter and drier than expected

Wednesday, 14 February 2018, 10:11 Last update: about 4 months ago

A balmy January started off 2018 with pleasantly warm temperatures and over six hours of sunshine more than the climate norm for this time of year, the Meteorological Office said.

Air temperatures for the month ranged between the highest maximum of 19.2°C and the lowest minimum of 7°C. At 16.9°C, the mean maximum temperature exceeded the climate norm by 1.3°C, whilst the mean minimum temperature was a considerable 1.6°C higher than the expected 9.9°C.

The sea was warmer too, maintaining a mean surface temperature of 16.5°C rather than the climate norm of 15.8°C.

These warmer-than-average temperatures were accompanied by a total of 169.1 hours of sunshine and a mean cloud cover of 4 oktas, ensuring that the islands lived up to their sunny reputation even in the middle of winter.

The sun did not make an appearance on 15 January, but it did not go missing for long as two days later it shone for the month’s maximum of 9.3 hours. This is more than the total sunshine hours enjoyed by certain French cities in all of the first half of January.

Whilst sunshine was not in short supply, precipitation was a different matter. Amounting to just 13.3mm, January’s total rainfall came nowhere near close to the 92.9mm expected at this time of year. In fact, the month was the driest January the Maltese islands have experienced in the last decade.

Almost half of January’s total rainfall – 6.4mm to be exact – was measured on the twelfth day of the month. This day also accounted for January’s only hail occurrence.

January was also windier than usual, maintaining a mean speed of 11.1 knots rather than the expected 9.2 knots. The maximum gust recorded blew at 47 knots from a North-Westerly direction on the second day of the month.

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