Sea level rises and floods Msida valley

Thursday, 12th May, 2016

Msida flooded

Prof. Drago

Roads along the coast of Msida were flooded this morning as a result of a phenomenon known in Maltese as “il-Milghuba”.

This phenomenon occurs all year round, and causes changes in sea level of a few centimetres usually. However, under certain atmospheric conditions, usually occurring in May and September, the effect is stronger. In an interview on TVM news, Prof. Aldo Drago, of the Physical Oceanography Research Group, Department of Geosciences, University of Malta, described the cause of the flooding. The atmospheric conditions act on the sea surface, beating it like a hammer. This creates waves of long wavelengths, having periods of the order of minutes. When these waves approach land, they cause the sea level to fall and rise within a few minutes.

The event observed this morning was stronger than usual, to the extent that flood relief measures in Msida valley were not sufficient to stop flooding of the roads there. Records from the Physical Oceanography Research Group’s sea level gauge, located in the Portomaso Yacht Marina, showed that the change in sea level occurred throughout the night and reached a peak at about 6:15am when the sea rose above the level of the road, as shown in the photos above. At this point, the change in sea level was more than one metre.

The last time such an event was observed was in July 2014.