Malta is going through some of its coldest days of 2021 yet… but elsewhere on the continent, the worst is just about to hit. And somehow, thousands of kilometres away, the “weather bomb” set to hit the United Kingdom has a weirdly Maltese-sounding name.
A Red Warning has been issued ahead of what is being dubbed a “severe weather event” which is reportedly posing significant “danger to life” to England, Wales, Scotland and Nothern Ireland.
In fact, most of the UK is bracing for tomorrow’s arrival of a deep area of low pressure which is moving in from the Atlantic and forming the second named storm of the season, just after last week’s Storm Arwen.
And the name of this insane storm? Barra.
Now of course, barra – which is Maltese for “out” – is by no means a word that’s restricted to this tiny island of ours.
In fact, the word has half a dozen meanings in Italian, from ‘bar’, ‘rod’ and ‘spear’ to barrier (which is, etymologically speaking, probably the closest to our own use of it in Maltese).
The word even shows up in Arabic, as a girls’ name that means affectionate, kind and dutiful.
Meanwhile, back north, barra in Scottish is a wheelbarrow, and is also a Gaelic word for a spear (bringing it all the way back to Italian again).
But why name a storm Barra?
It’s pretty simple actually.
Named yesterday, Barra was given its Maltese-sounding moniker as part of the Name Our Storms collaboration with Irish forecasters Met Éireann and Dutch forecasters KNMI.
It just so happened that, in the same way some Lord of the Rings fan smirked when they saw the last storm being named Arwen, this one was going to get a weird eyebrow raise from any Maltese expats living in the UK… especially considering the whole country is being told to stay indoors because of a storm named “out”.
Of course, a storm like Barra is no joke, and many areas all around the UK are bracing for a potentially devastating impact sometime tomorrow.
Believed to be able to cause “a lot of structural damage all around the country”, it looks like Storm Barra could bring with it “multiple hazards”.
From storm surges and spot flooding of around 55mm of rain being expected to fall in the southwest to a significant possibility of coastal flooding, tidal flooding, winds of around 80 km/hr, ice, sleet and heavy snow, the next 24 hours could prove to be very important – and potentially tragic – to many households around the British Isles.
And all this following a weekend where areas in the UK felt as cold as -11°C… and areas in Sweden and northern Finland went all the way down to -35°C.
Meanwhile, Malta will be treated to its own brand of stormier, colder weather…
In fact, thousands of kilometres away from the UK, the Maltese Islands still have their own, separate warning for strong winds, with westerly gusts hitting Force 8 overnight and only reducing to Force 6 and 7 over tomorrow.
In fact, highs of 14°C and lows of 11°C will definitely feel even colder, with moments of today feeling as cold as 9°C even without those particularly strong gusts.