Hotter and drier summer, wetter autumn recorded in 2021

What does the yearly round-up for 2021 from the Meteorological Office tell us?

Warmer, drier, wetter... it's all in the annual round-up (Photo: The Meteorological Office)
Warmer, drier, wetter... it's all in the annual round-up (Photo: The Meteorological Office)

The highest temperature of 2021 was recorded in June with 41.5˚C breaking the previous record for the month, the Meteorological Office revealed in its yearly round-up.

This temperature was registered during a 12-day heatwave that 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 at 33.8˚C.

In general, the summer period was hotter and drier than expected. The average temperature for the season exceeded the 1981-2010 climate norm by 2°C, and just 1.6mm of rainfall was collected.

Start of 2021 warmer than expected

January and February, one of the driest on record, maintained a mean air temperature that was 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 Met Office in the first month of the year since 1923.

Autumn brought relief

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 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, there were 17 thunderstorms out of 25 for the whole year.

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 that 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 temperature of the year at 10.7°C.

The month also had the lowest temperature of the year of 10.7°C. The lowest temperature for 2021, on the other hand, was recorded on 15 February 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 being the sunniest month of 2021 and November the gloomiest.