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Weather Or Not?

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Roger Mosey | 11:25 UK time, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

There's nothing we Brits like talking about more than the weather, but Canadians are currently running us close. The reason: the lack of snow at some of the Winter Olympics venues, which was blogged about on this site by my colleague Jonny Bramley.

Now, we can probably (just) rule out any snow during the Summer Games of 2012 - but the British climate should be an intriguing backdrop to our Olympics.

In previous host cities it's been predictable what the weather would be like: hot and sunny in Athens, hot and humid in Beijing. For that reason some events in 2004 and 2008 were kept away from the middle part of the day.

London can be more adventurous in its scheduling because we should avoid the extremes of other climates - but that "should" does, of course, gloss over what can kindly be described as the "varied" weather we get here.

A child enjoys a fountain next to the River Thames in August 2009Although extreme weather is rare, London experienced some very hot days last summer

I asked my colleagues in the BBC Weather Centre for the official version, and these are the seasonal averages:

July - Max temp: 22C, Min temp: 14C, Sunshine (hrs per day): 6, Precipitation (per month): 57mm

August - Max temp: 21C, Min temp: 13C, Sunshine (hrs per day): 6, Precipitation (per month): 59mm

So in theory from 27 July to 12 August in 2012 there can be an expectation of pleasantly temperate weather by the standard of recent Summer Games.

But London's last Olympics in 1948 had a different experience: a bakingly hot and sunny day for the opening ceremony that resulted in significant numbers fainting because of the heat - and then some of the competition taking place in miserably wet and cool weather.

The simmering summers of the mid-2000s are fresh enough in the memory for a repeat to be perfectly possible, though so too are the soggy ones that happened despite the Met Office's predictions of barbecue weather. In other words, nobody can have a clue whether London 2012 will be as hot and humid as Atlanta or as mild and at times wet as Sydney - or some of both as in 1948.

oc_getty595.jpgThe last London Olympics in 1948 opened on a bakingly hot and sunny day

But the consequences for the athletes and for horses in the equestrian events may be considerable.

So I'm certain we'll hear a lot more about this. The London organisers have appointed an official weather forecaster - the Met Office - and we can only regret that the title of the press release isn't quite true in that they're not supplying the weather itself. That, as in Vancouver, is in the lap of the gods - and there's not much either host city can do to change things.


  • Comment number 1.

    Yes Roger, we can expect to see all four seasons within the couple of weeks of London 2012. But hopefully, if the rain holds off that itself will be a relief. A sunny Olympics in London would be absolutely fantastic, but even a dry one wouldn't be so bad.

  • Comment number 2.


    On the VANOC website are reports from the last 4 or 5 years indicating the weather on each of the days of the Games and an analysis of the impact if the weather conditions were repeated duting actual games times. It seamed to be a good bit of advanced planning.

    It was a while since I read them but I recall they were all related to having too much rather than too little snow etc. They assessed what delays etc would have had to have been applied and any mitigating action. If I find the link I'll post it as they do make interesting reading.

    Have / are LOCOG doing something similar?

  • Comment number 3.

    Just found them - towards the bottom of the page - 'Thinking weather reports'

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks, magnificentpolarbear: those are interesting, and I'm sure there'll be similar contingency planning here.

    Olympics King - absolutely: and I'm sure many people here remember the Manchester Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, which unfortunately reinforced Manchester's reputation for rain...

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, you could do a bit of planetary gazing and ask those who use lunar, oceanic and solar inputs to predict what you might get.

    It's certainly possible to find those in London who'll predict extreme weather 6 months up front, with stronger confirmation or alteration 2 months before. Try to see some of the phenomenal predictions successfully made in the past 12 months......whether you'll be able to fine tune schedules at that sort of notice I don't know, but worth a chat, perhaps??

    There's also no question that lunar extremes influence certain weather patterns, particularly high tides and mountain weather. Whether London would be similarly affected I don't know. The BBC might be considered a bit wacko if you did that, but you might find some interesting insights by taking a look at that.........I'm pretty sure the Lauberhorn and Hahnenkamm race schedules are looked at to see when the New Moon is, as fine, settled weather is more likely at certain times in the lunar monthly cycle.........

    As for the weather in British Columbia right now, there's a well-written article today at which talks about it, along with the good snow conditions elsewhere in the globe. El Nino, basically, is causing the mildness on the NW coast and coldness on the eastern seaboard of the USA. That's life. Whistler's still looking stonkingly good, I must say.....

    One thing's for sure: you can't guarantee good weather. I went to a conference on Long Island in 1992 and the dress implication was: 'bring loads of t-shirts and shorts, with the odd pair of long trousers for the hours of darkness'. The whole week was in the 50s and miserable rain! Only the day before I flew home did New York feel hot and sticky. That's life.

    I guess the potential suppliers of Olympic t-shirts and umbrellas might be interested in a prediction, of course..........

  • Comment number 6.

    Roger, I suspect the BBC would love a Sunny Olympics, would be nice?
    The rain will be annoying but you cannot rule it out....even Wimbers has the rain....will the Olympic Stadium have a retractable roof for it?
    Or can they borrow the one from the Millenium for the 2 weeks?
    Im sure that LOGOC woulc cut costs and get some weather rockets...Im sure Seb Coe would love that but thats parcel of the Olympics, Vancouver hasnt had the snow so I wouldnt rule out rain for London 2012...and for them to choose the Met Office is silly...after all, havent they been telling us about the barbecue summer and the winter rain which became rain and snow?? I think LOGOC should replace the Met Office with MeteoFrance who the F1 Teams use who never get it wrong when it rains in the F1 Races.
    El Nino would be a factor..hoefully for 2012 it will be fine but actually Mr Mosley, it would be wise to look at the sun..because the sun storm is going to strike on 2012...suprisingly it will hit during the Olympics and may hit electricity and satellities...does the BBC know about this and do they have a back-up plan to make sure nothing is affected or are the BBC keeping their options open?

  • Comment number 7.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] Try to see some of the phenomenal predictions successfully made in the past 12 months......whether you'll be able to fine tune schedules at that sort of notice I don't know, but worth a chat, perhaps??

  • Comment number 8.

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