Updated | Rare cyclone suspends aircraft activity, power outages reported

Aircraft activity resumes after rain and winds lead to its suspension. Passengers advised to check MIA's website for flight updates

An uprooted tree blocked both ways on Sir Paul Boffa Road, Paola near Shoemark. Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook
An uprooted tree blocked both ways on Sir Paul Boffa Road, Paola near Shoemark. Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook
Satellite imagery of weather formation over Malta and Sicily
Satellite imagery of weather formation over Malta and Sicily
Satellite imagery of cyclone. Source: ANSA
Satellite imagery of cyclone. Source: ANSA
Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook
Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook
Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook
Photo: maltatraffic/Facebook

Sicily’s civil protection department has issued a warning of a cyclone that could hit the island’s coasts, putting 10 regions from the southern Italian mainland on alert.

The Met Office told MaltaToday that the low-pressure area centred on Malta and extending to Sicily has resulted in Force 6-7 winds reaching gale force, gusting up to 60 knots. The winds are expected to die down by tomorrow morning.

The mini-cyclone has already formed along the Sicilian straits, with its centre on the island of Linosa, and heading towards the Sicilian coasts. The mini-cyclone was said to have already reached Malta.

Earlier, Malta International Airport temporarily suspended all aircraft activity at the airport due to bad weather until further notice. "MIA is committed to prioritising passenger safety and will also make sure to keep the public and press informed of any updates. Passengers are advised to check for flight updates on www.maltairport.com or to contact their airline. We apologise to our passengers for any inconvenience caused," the airport said.

 

The Gozo Channel has also stopped all ferry crossings, with long queues of motorists and commuters left stranded on the Cirkewwa dock.

Enemalta technicians and engineers are working to restore electricity supply to several areas in Malta and Gozo after the strong winds that hit the islands earlier today damaged several parts of the electricity grid.

The first high tension fault was registered at around 5pm, affecting electricity supply in parts of Rabat, Mgarr, Bahrija and Mtahleb.

Power outages were subsequently reported in other localities, including parts of Mellieha, Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay. The winds brought down overhead power lines and damaged poles and other equipment causing supply disruptions to individual customers or streets in other localities. Engineers are assessing each case, and where possible, electricity supply is being restored.

Additional teams of workers have been deployed to carry out the necessary repairs in the shortest time possible. Priority is being given to areas where the damages are posing safety risks to customers. In some cases, supply will be restored as soon as the weather conditions are safe enough for workers to repair the damages caused.   

Mediterranean tropical cyclones, sometimes referred to as Mediterranean hurricanes or medicanes, are rare meteorological phenomena observed in the Mediterranean Sea. Due to the dry nature of the Mediterranean region, formation of tropical cyclones is infrequent, with only 99 recorded tropical-like storms between 1948 and 2011.

MaltaWeatherSite.com issued an alert warning of severe and damaging wind gusts from a southerly direction as the eye of the Mediterranean cyclone moves across the Maltese Islands. "This is valid till midnight. Maximum significant wave heights expected to be W 6.6 metres. Possible heavy rain showers with localised flooding."

On their Facebook wall, MaltaWeather expressed glee for the rare occasion: "We are now in the eye of the Mediterranean cyclone! A historic moment! Most likely this will NEVER happen again in our lifetimes! This is the day a hurricane came to Malta and Gozo!"

More in National