As we ease into the meteorological autumn, which has ushered in cloudy skies and the first showers of the new precipitation year, here is a look at some weather highlights from a sweltering summer whose average temperature was 2°C higher than the 1981-2010 seasonal norm.

While heatwaves are not uncommon during the summer months, last summer will surely be remembered for the 12-day heatwave which lingered on from the latter part of June until the beginning of July. Having lasted four days, between the end of July and the beginning of August, the second heatwave to hit the Maltese islands last summer was much shorter and comparable in length to the four other heatwaves (June 2019, June 2017, June 2013, June 2012) of the past decade.

Last summer’s highest air temperature was reached early on when the mercury shot to a sizzling 41.5°C in June and set a new record for the hottest temperature for the month since 1923. This record was previously held by June 2019, with a maximum temperature of 37.8°C. A look at recent meteorological data, in fact, reveals that very similar temperatures to last season’s were also experienced in 2019 and 2012, with the maximum temperatures for these two summers having peaked at 39.6°C and 40.8°C, respectively.

Both last July’s and August’s maximum air temperatures of 38.0°C and 40.6°C were lower than June’s highest temperature. While all three summer months had a number of days on which the monthly climate norm was exceeded, with a total of 23 hotter-than-average days clocked and a mean maximum temperature of 33.8°C, August was the hottest month of the season. The season’s lowest temperature, on the other hand, was recorded in June at 17.6°C.

The sea surrounding the Maltese islands too was warmer than expected at this time of year, with the mean surface temperatures for June, July and August exceeding the respective monthly climate norms by between 1.9°C and 2.9°C. Summer started with an average sea surface temperature of 23.4°C registered in June and ended with August’s average of 29.0°C. These average sea surface temperatures were comparable to those registered in summer 2003.

Warm air and sea temperatures were accompanied by a total of 1001.6 hours of sunshine. While July’s sunshine hours were largely in line with the climate norm, June received 34 hours of sunshine less than the quota for the month, due to the presence of dust in suspension and high-level clouds on multiple occasions, and August was brightened by 7.6 hours of sunshine more than the expected 335.3 hours. August skies were, in fact, much clearer than expected, with the month maintaining a mean cloud cover of 0.8 oktas rather than the norm of 1.2 oktas.

The summer season was marked by a lack of precipitation, with July yielding no rain at all, and June and August each producing a lower-than-average 0.8mm of rainfall.

Published on: 15.09.2021