Driest December in 100 years makes 2022 second-driest year in past decade

Meteorological data released by MIA shows that Malta registered a higher average of sunshine, the driest December since 1922, and the coldest start to spring since 1987

Last December was the driest since 1922
Last December was the driest since 1922

A lack of rainfall throughout December meant that 2022 closed as the second-driest year in the past decade with just 368mm of precipitation.

Meteorological data published by Malta International Airport shows that overall rainfall in 2022 fell far short of the annual norm of 543mm.

With just 6.4mm of rainfall, of which 1mm descended in the form of dew, last month became the driest December since 1922. It is also the eighth consecutive drier-than-average December.

Many December mornings, particularly in the latter half of the month, were characterised by mist, fog, and heavy dewfall.

These phenomena resulted from a combination of factors, including clear skies, light and variable winds, and evaporation from surfaces that were still water-charged with November’s above-average rainfall, which accounted for 41% of the year’s total precipitation.

Besides being the year’s wettest month, November was also the stormiest with six thunderstorms out of a total of 17 which rattled the islands in 2022.  

May, July, and September were also wetter than their respective climate norms, with the rest of the months all producing less rain than the monthly quotas. February, which yielded 4mm of precipitation rather than the expected 69mm, was one of the driest Februaries on record.

But the islands lived up to their sunny reputation in 2022, with the year clocking a much higher than average amount of sunshine totalling 3,124 hours.

A look at the temperatures that were registered during the year shows that the first four months of 2022 were all colder than expected, with January, February, and March each having a day with hail.

January 2022 was the coldest January in Malta since 2019, accounting for the year’s lowest temperature of 4.2°C, while March’s mean air temperature of 12.4°C made for the coldest start to the meteorological spring since 1987.

This trend persisted in the second month of spring, but was reversed in May, which maintained a mean air temperature that was 0.5°C higher than the norm and had a maximum temperature of 31.2°C, giving residents an early taste of summer.

The air temperature continued to rise in June, peaking at 38°C as the year’s only heatwave hit the Maltese Islands. However, the year’s highest temperature was reached in August, when the mercury hit the 39.2°C mark. 

While 2022 started on a chilly note, it ended with an unseasonably warm and sunny December, which was the product of a persistent anticyclonic high-pressure system. December’s mean air temperature was 1.7°C higher than the norm of 14.5°C, and the sunshine hours registered during the month amounted to 197.3 rather than the expected 165.7 hours.