THE JET STREAM, the bad guy of Britain's washout summer, is heading back north, raising hopes of warmer, sunnier weather just in time for the Olympic Games.
The soggy weather system, which normally flows to the north of Scotland, has been sitting over southern England for the past three months, bringing virtually non-stop rain with it.
New data from the Met Office suggests the situation is changing, however, and by Saturday the jet stream will be closer to where it belongs.
As The Times puts it: "The Western Isles, which have so far escaped their usual July downpours, will be reunited with the weather that they have lent to the South for the past few weeks."
Illustrating the extent to which Outer Hebrideans have been the winners of the British summer so far, the paper points out that the islanders of South Uist can usually expect 83mm of rain in July. So far they have had only 5mm.
The retreat of the jet stream will allow a ridge of high pressure to exert its influence over southern parts of England, bringing warmer, sunnier weather. Northern and western parts are out of luck, however. They will experience what the BBC calls "changeable" weather.
The change in the jet stream means the Olympics, which start on 27 July, may avoid the washout which everybody thought was inevitable.
The BBC, which uses Met Office data, predicts for the week of Monday 23 July- Sunday 29 July: "Changeable conditions will continue into the following week. However, there are now signs that the unsettled weather will become more focussed 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."
The change comes too late for one athlete, however. Liu Xiang, the Chinese winner of the 110m hurdles title at the 2004 Athens Olympics, left London after the constant rain and cold temperatures got too much for him. He has gone to Dusseldorf to finish his preparations for the Olympics. ·