2021: A YEAR OF METEOROLOGICAL RECORDS
- January & June set new maximum temperature records for the respective months
- August hottest month with mean temperature of 33.8˚C; March coolest with mean of 10.7˚C
- Total rainfall for the year slightly below climate norm of 567.0mm
- October was wettest month of the year & third-wettest since 1922
December brought a year of meteorological records to a close on a sunny but cooler-than-average note: the sunshine quota for the month was exceeded by 18.2 hours while the mean air temperature was 0.6˚C lower than the climate norm of 14.3 ˚C.
December’s cooler temperatures contrasted with the weather at the start of 2021, which saw both January and February (which was one of the driest on record) maintain mean air temperatures which were considerably higher than the norm. January’s maximum temperature of 25.8˚C, which peaked as south-westerly winds blew from the Sahara Desert and a dense cloud cover trapped hot air over the Maltese islands, went down on record as the highest temperature to have been registered by the Meteorological Office in the first month of the year since 1923.
The highest temperature of the year was reached in June, when the mercury shot to a blistering 41.5˚C and shattered previous temperature records for the month, as the Maltese islands sizzled in a 12-day heatwave which extended into July. A second, much shorter heatwave hit Malta between the end of July and the beginning of August, with the latter month registering the highest mean temperature of the year of 33.8˚C. In general, the summer period was hotter and drier than expected at this time of year, with the average temperature for the season exceeding the 1981-2010 climate norm by 2°C and just 1.6mm of rainfall collected.
The meteorological autumn brought some relief from the relentless summer heat as the air temperature averaged at a more pleasant 26.3°C in September. The month also ushered in the first rain showers of the precipitation year. However, the 18.4mm of rainfall yielded did not measure up to the monthly climate norm, making September the ninth drier-than-average month of 2021.
The tide turned in October with the collection of 246.2mm of rainfall, which put down the month on record as the third-wettest October since 1922. A much wetter-than-average November brought up the precipitation amount for the meteorological autumn to 413.2mm, with the Meteorological Office’s records showing that the Maltese islands had not experienced such a wet autumn in 22 years. Throughout the meteorological autumn, 17 thunderstorms, out of 25 for the whole year, were observed by the Meteorological Office in Ħal Luqa.
2021 ended with another drier-than-average month, after December produced just 32% of the expected rainfall. The 33.6mm of rainfall measured in December brought precipitation for the year to a total which was 10.8mm below the norm of 567.0mm. In December, Ħal Luqa was hit by hail, as was also the case on three other occasions in January and March. March was one of only three months, the others being October and December, to register an average air temperature that was lower than the monthly climate norm.
The month also had the lowest mean air temperature of the year of 10.7°C. The lowest temperature for 2021, on the other hand, was recorded on February 15 when an arctic air mass moved towards the Maltese islands and brought down the mercury to 5.8°C. February was one of six months in 2021 to clock more sunshine hours than the respective monthly norm. Moreover, the year was brightened by a total of 2,913 hours of sunshine, with July (364.7 hours) being the sunniest month of 2021 and November (151.4 hours) the gloomiest.
Published on: 19.01.2022