LAST WINTER, DRIEST WINTER ON RECORD

  • Winter temperature peaks at 24.6°C in March
  • Mean sea temperature for December of 18.6°C
  • January registers highest sea temperature for this month since 1978
  • February driest month last winter and in 93 years

With 99.6 mm of precipitation, winter was almost four times drier than it was last year, becoming the driest winter on record. This allowed the Maltese islands to enjoy weather traditionally experienced in spring early but caused parched fields and poor crop yield.

A quick look at last winter’s weather – one of the mildest in living memory – shows that locally rain was scarce and sea and air temperatures were higher than usual. In fact, the highest air temperatures registered for each month of winter were close to the maximum temperatures recorded in April and May 2015. This year’s unusually warm winter was a phenomenon that hit most of Europe, impacting animal behaviour and plants’ flowering patterns.

Locally, days were much brighter than usual with February 19th enjoying a maximum of 10.2 hours of sunshine, which is only 0.4 hours less than the mean sunshine hours recorded for August 2015. Exceptionally bright days were also experienced on December 23rd, delighting those who left Christmas shopping to the last minute, and January 26th.

Although December was the wettest month of winter, the 45.8mm of precipitation registered were still significantly less than the 104.8mm norm for this time of the year. With a mere 2.6mm of precipitation, last February was both the driest month last winter, as well as the driest February on record since 1923. Between them, January and March registered just over 51mm of precipitation and the two hail occurrences for winter.

Peaking at 23.6°C, last February’s temperature became the highest temperature for this month in 93 years. Interestingly, in the United States, Alaska also experienced its warmest February in a stretch of over 90 years. Locally, the highest temperature in winter was reached in March at 24.6°C, while it dropped to a lowest of 5.9°C in January.

The sea was also warmer than usual throughout winter, with January registering the highest ever sea-surface temperature for this month at 17.6°C. In December, raincoats could practically be traded for swimsuits and wetsuits as sea temperatures were in the region of 18.6°C.

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