Tornadoes are quite a bitch to deal with. Thankfully, we in Malta wouldn’t really know since we don’t get much of them. When we do get, they’re usually in the form of water spouts out at sea, and we get to see them from quite a safe distance. This doesn’t mean that Malta’s never been through a particularly bad tornado, and that’s exactly what happened a couple of centuries ago.
On 23rd September of either 1551 or 1556 (we don’t know because the sources are quite conflicting about the dates and most probably people were still a bit shaken up by this force of nature), a huge and devastating tornado hit Malta, specifically the Grand Harbour.
It started as a waterspout, but ended up looking like a raging boner flying over the Grand Harbour.
And it was not any kind of regular old tornado we see nowadays. Oh no. This was a Sharknado-style tornado. It was so intense, that at least four of the Order of St. John’s Galleys were overturned, and galleys tended to be large and heavy. They also had very cliché galley names — Santa Fé, San Claudio, San Michele and San Filippo.
By the end of the storm, at least 600 people were killed.
Picture this, but way worse
Thankfully, Valletta was practically non-existent at the time since its first stone was laid down at least 10 years later in 1566.
That’s why our beautiful city does not really have any recollection of this Maltese version of Sharknado wrecking its harbour. But our records to. Well, kind of.