Desert sand from north Africa in April led to less sunshine

The Meteorological Office says dust and sand were present in the air on several occasions in April, leading to considerably reduced visibility on two days

Photo taken on 21 April when the sky took on a sepia tone as Malta was swept by desert sand (Photo: Kurt Sansone)
Photo taken on 21 April when the sky took on a sepia tone as Malta was swept by desert sand (Photo: Kurt Sansone)

Dust in the air was observed for six days in April, causing considerably reduced visibility on two particular days and contributing to less sunshine, the Meteorological Office said.

The effects of the dust were particularly prominent on 6 and 21 April when visibility was greatly reduced. The dust resulted from large amounts of dust and sand coming from the desert in north Africa, a normal occurence in spring.

April brought warmer spring days to Malta as the average air temperature increased by 3.4°C over March.

However, at 15.8°C, last month’s average air temperature was still 0.6°C below the climate norm for April, while the mean sea surface temperature was 0.3°C lower than the expected 16.3°C.

April’s maximum air temperature peaked at 24.6°C on 25 April, while the lowest temperature was recorded on 19 April at 8.4°C.

The 19 April was the coldest month but also the sunniest, with 12.4 hours of sunshine recorded. No sunshine was recorded on 15,16, and 28 as a result of dust in the air and high levels of humidity which produced hazy weather.

April’s mean cloud cover was perfectly in line with the norm of 3.6 oktas but the sunshine hours during the month failed to measure up to the monthly quota of 252.9 hours.

April also yielded just 2.0 mm of precipitation, rather than the expected 18.7 mm.  

In fact, April continued the drier-than-average trend that has been observed since the beginning of the year.

The month’s wettest days were 15 and 18 April, each of which produced 0.8 mm of precipitation.

15 April also produced the month’s maximum gust of 42 knots from the northeast by east direction as powerful winds swept across Malta.

The month was windier than expected, with the average wind speed exceeding the climate norm of 9.5 knots by 1.6 knots.