Current Affairs
How many lightning bolts have struck in August?

One lighting bolt at the beginning of this month was powerful enough to provide electricity for two Maltese people for practically an entire year.  However, this was not the most powerful lightning bolt which has been registered by the equipment installed on the roof of the University which over the last four years has measured every lightning bolt which has struck Malta and its surroundings.

In the first two weeks of August, around 300 lightning bolts hit our islands or nearby.

Adam Gauci, a lecturer in the Physical Oceanography divison at the University pointed out that between 5 – 6 August, 328 lightning bolts struck with in 24 hours. The two most powerful of these hit Mtarfa and Mosta. The most powerful one measured around 44.8 KiloAmps, which Dr Gauci estimates is enough to provide electricity for two people for one year.

“They were not very strong, in other words, usually we have lightning which is much more intense, especially in October. We had the most lightning in the south of Gozo and we also had two powerful ones on Monday morning around 7am, between Mosta, Rabat and Mdina.”

These lightning bolts were observed by means of equipment installed  on the roof of the Faculty of Science. Dr Gauci said that the most powerful bolt ever registered by this equipment struck on 26 January 2015 in the sea between Malta and Sicily.

He explained that the equipment forms part of a large number of stations spread between 250 and 300 kms away from each other around Europe which provide information about lightning in their area.

Adam Gauci said, “when lightning strikes it sends out a pulse and this pulse hits these sensors at different times. The gap between these timings is very brief but from the differences in the time one can calculate where the lightning bolt was when it happened and how intense it was.”

This system forms part of a European network which studies lightning, which is controlled by the University of Munich.

By means of this equipment, it has been observed that the number of lightning bolts which are hitting land are increasing.

From 445 in Malta and 111 in Gozo in 2015, last year, we had 900 lightning strikes in Malta and 383 in Gozo.