The Maltese Islands today woke up to the prospect of more pleasant temperatures than those that characterised the past few days, with the Meteorological Office downgrading a red weather warning that was first issued on 18 July to a yellow warning.

Red weather warnings are issued when the forecast air temperature is expected to be equal to or higher than 40°C, as an advisory to members of the public to protect themselves from dangerously high levels of heat. During the 10-day heatwave that has just washed over the Maltese Islands, the air temperature exceeded the 40°C mark on six days, with temperatures in the high 30s being registered in the first four days of the heatwave.

The heatwave peaked on 24 July, when a maximum temperature of 42.7°C was recorded by the Meteorological Office. Despite it being 11°C higher than the maximum temperature norm for the month, this searing temperature did not set any new records. A look through the Meteorological Office’s archives shows that the record for July was first set in 1988, back when the maximum temperature had also peaked at 42.7°C during a four-day heatwave.

The spate of significantly above-average temperatures the islands have just experienced resulted from a region of relatively weak or calm atmospheric conditions that extended from the Sahara Desert and stationed itself over the central Mediterranean. Due to weak winds, the same air mass stalled in one place for an extended period, with an air temperature build-up being observed in the meantime.

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The Meteorological Office is now forecasting air temperatures that are closer to the July climate norm between today and the first day of August, as North-westerly winds that are set to reach Force 6 by Wednesday evening bring about a change in air mass. Over the next days, the maximum temperature is expected to range between 30°C and 34°C, while the minimum temperature will hover around the 26°C mark.

Published on: 26.07.2023