London 2012 Olympics: weather forecast may improve in time for Games, says Met Office
Despite the gloom of the wettest summer in living memory, there is cause for the smallest, most cautious dose of optimism that the weather may improve in time for the Olympics.
The long-range forecast from the Met Office issued on Monday is predicting that the south of the UK may see “some brighter, warmer weather” in time for the opening ceremony in 10 days time.
The London organising committee (Locog) has been told that the general trend will be towards an improvement, with the jet stream predicted to move north.
That may be bad news for the north of England and Scotland, where unsettled damp conditions could continue, but good news for Danny Boyle and the ceremonies teams preparing to stage opening night.
The Met Office long-range forecast published on Monday said the weather would remain changeable next week, but the worst conditions could shift north.
In its forecast for the week ending Sunday 29 July it said: “There are now signs that the unsettled weather will become more focused towards northern and western parts of the United Kingdom. This will result in drier, more settled conditions in the south with some brighter, warmer weather."
For the period from Monday July 30 to the end of the Games, it predicts brighter weather in the south, but rain will continue to threaten.
“The weather will remain changeable, especially over more northern parts of the UK. There will be drier, brighter and warmer weather further south but some rain is expected at times.”
The picture will become clearer today when Locog receives a 10-day forecast from the Met, considered broadly accurate of trends as the weather heading London's way is already in the jet stream.
Forget Usain Bolt’s hamstrings and Phillips Idowu’s hip, given the rain of the last three months it is the most eagerly awaited update of the Olympic build-up.
Relentless rain has made two of the last three months the wettest on record and the deluge continued yesterday, with the first athletes arriving in the Olympic village to find fitful rain and skies as grey as the security fences.
For some it is already too much. Sprint-hurdler Liu Xiang, among the favourites for the 110 metres hurdles, was reported by Chinese media to have changed his training plans because it is too cold in the UK.
Instead of preparing here he has travelled to Düsseldorf, not renowned as a suntrap, but more pleasant than London in this horror summer.
Xiang had been due to train at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham, but is reported to have left. “Due to the low temperatures London many Chinese athletes have chosen to look for other training bases,” his coach Sun Haiping is quoted as saying.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson declined an invitation to apologise for the weather yesterday, but said the athletes would be unaffected.
“It would be pointless apologising for the British weather, but top-class athletes will have prepared for all sorts of extreme conditions, be it wind, extreme heat or rain. They will still perform at the highest level.”
The torch relay will continue regardless of the conditions, with up to 2 million people expected to turn out to see it as it tours London’s 33 boroughs in the final week of the relay.
It arrives in the capital this Friday, when it will be abseiled into the Tower of London by a Royal Marine before starting its journey around the London boroughs the following day.
Former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis carry the torch on Saturday, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence take part on Monday, and Gordon Banks carry the flame at Wembley next Tuesday. Daley Thompson carries it on Wednesday at Alexandra Palace.
Locog have made it clear that anyone carrying the torch in the relay is not precluded from being involved in the final lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Thompson is among the former athletes tipped for involvement.
The penultimate day of the relay, Thursday 26, will see the capital come to a halt as the torch visits all the major landmarks including Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
It will be housed overnight at Hampton Court Palace before travelling down river on the Royal barge Gloriana, used in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, to the Tower of London. From there it will make the final journey to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on Friday 27.
Details of who will light the cauldron and how they will do it remain confidential.