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    Tue, June 5, 2007
   Record rainfall for all of June... in one day- as reported by the Times...

As usual, Valley Road, Birkirkara was one of the spots where rainwater turned into dangerous torrents.
Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi.

June 4, 2007 will be remembered as the day which broke all records for rainfall in June, with the unexpected downpours causing chaos and misery on the flood-prone roads.

Not only did it break the record for a single day's rainfall for that month, but it rained more in 24 hours than it has ever done for the whole month of June, records of the past 84 years held by the Meteorological Office show.

A spokesman for the Met Office said that 57.6mm of rainfall was recorded at Luqa throughout the day yesterday. The wettest June recorded at the Met Office was June 1968 when 28.2mm of rain was measured.

Another 11.6mm were registered for the first three days of this month, bringing the total for June so far to a whopping 69.2mm.

The figure grows in significance when compared to the average rainfall for the whole of June measured by the Met Office: just 0.8mm.

Yesterday's unusually freaky weather for this time of year caught many by surprise especially drivers in areas notorious for flooding. The fact that it was a school holiday may have been providential.

Many had to be rescued from their cars by personnel from the Civil Protection Department who responded to emergency calls to assist motorists in distress after they were caught in the strong currents. Some got carried away, car and all. Many areas were clogged with cars stranded in high water. No one was injured and no major damage was caused, the CPD and the police confirmed. Many homes were flooded, however.

The heavy showers tended to be very localised. A brief storm would occur at Zurrieq and the environs and soon after it would hit the Birkirkara or Valletta area.

In fact CPD personnel were amazed how at one point, Msida Valley was clear of rainwater but as they approached Birkirkara they saw a wave of water rushing down towards them resulting from a heavy downpour.

One motorist said: "It was a nightmare to be in the street yesterday. Imagine having to get to Msida from Birkirkara."

At Valley Road in Birkirkara, notorious for flooding, cars with terrified occupants were lifted by the force of the current and carried down the road.

The danger spots, as expected, were Birkirkara, Balzan, Iklin and the Bahar ic-Caghaq Coast Road.

The police yesterday morning issued warnings to motorists to avoid Birkirkara Valley and Msida, the Coast Road, Burmarrad and St Andrew's. Those who did not heed the warnings must have regretted it.

The stormy weather is now expected to have started clearing by this afternoon and improve over the coming days, the Met Office said yesterday.

The spokesman said the bad weather was caused by a patch of cold and unstable weather which persisted over the central Mediterranean causing thunderstorms. There were many thunderstorms in the vicinity of the Maltese islands, mostly occurring at sea but some reaching us.

It is now expected that this low pressure system will move away gradually but the instability will persist a little longer, at least until this afternoon.

Therefore, the possibility of isolated and less frequent showers still exists.

As could be expected, the temperature was cooler than normal - 18.9°C. Last year, the weather in June was characterised by longer than usual heat waves... so the hot weather may be just around the corner.

 Michael Testa