Gale-force winds forecast to batter Malta in similar conditions to 2019 storm


Even opletten dus! Windkracht 8 tot 9 gaat er komen en de voorspellingen zijn er dat er overstromingen en schade gaat komen!

Gale-force winds forecast to batter Malta in similar conditions to 2019 storm

Force 8 to 9 winds predicted to cause damage and flooding

Gale-force winds and a gregale storm, similar to the battering Malta experienced in February four years ago, are forecast to hit the islands over the next couple of days.

The forecast has already led to the cancellation of a number of events around the public holiday on Friday.

The Met Office is predicting winds of force 8 to 9 from early Thursday morning until Friday afternoon, meaning activities to mark the Feast of St Paul Shipwreck on February 10 in Valletta could be postponed.

Conditions are expected to be similar to the gregale storm that hit the Maltese Islands in February 2019, "with the possibility of damage and flooding comparable to what was experienced back then", the Met Office warned.

Exactly four years ago, Malta experienced its worst storm in decades, as gale-force winds wreaked havoc between February 23 and 24. Trees were uprooted, walls toppled, power lines damaged and seafronts flooded. In Xemxija, fish were flung out of the sea onto the promenade, leading to bizarre scenes of people braving the elements to collect them.

The weather had forced road closures across the whole island and Civil Protection Department officials were overwhelmed, even evacuating people from flooded residences.

On Thursday, the wind will start as an Easterly, but will back overnight to East Northeast, qualifying as a gregale storm, the Met Office predicted.

By Friday evening, it will become very strong to strong East Northeast (force 7 to force 8), it said, while Saturday will start with a strong (force 6) East Northeast wind, becoming moderate to rather strong (force 4 to 5).

Prolonged rain episodes are expected until Saturday night, which could be moderate to heavy at times, especially on Thursday and Friday.

The Met Office expects to issue wind and rain warnings that will be mostly orange, but was not excluding instances of red warnings for wind, rain and coastal events.

Land conditions for force 8 winds are defined on the Beaufort scale as: "Twigs break off trees and generally impede progress".

But the Met Office said "the effect and potential damage to specific structures depended on multiple factors, including their design and maintenance".

It said these storms were normal for this time of year.

Ghaqda tal-Pawlini president Douglas Mifsud said it was too early to say whether the inclement weather would have an impact on the traditional march and procession to mark the Feast of St Paul's Shipwreck on Friday.

A decision would only be taken on the day as things could change hourly, he said, adding that if there was any possibility to stick to the San Pawl Nawfragu programme and have the 5pm procession, this would be held.

The last time it was cancelled due to the weather was over 10 years ago, the feast organisers said, insisting that the gale-force winds would only push it to the next day.

Among the activities that are being postponed is a vigil for justice for Sion Grech, outside the law courts, which has now been moved to February 23.