The Effect of the Position of the Jet Stream on United Kingdom Weather

The United Kingdom’s not happy with the position of the jet stream. Storm after storm after storm’s been flowing along the jet stream, pounding the UK with unrelenting rain. London could really use a break from all the rain before the 2012 Olympic Games become the first ever Underwater Games.

Why is it happening?

The unrelenting nasty weather’s been caused by a shift of the jet stream just to the south of Britain, but not far enough south that it takes the miserable weather with it. Usually all that summer rain gets channelled north of Scotland, where it belongs. This time, it’s been shoved south of Britain by a Greenland high pressure heat dome. Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday.

A heat dome’s been trapped to the south as well, both in North America and North Africa. The Saharan air’s curving the jet stream up and around east England so it can enjoy the absolute most of all that rain.

In North America, the same jet stream issues have been giving hot drought to the middle of North America and hot steam and derechos to the other half. Crops are dying, forest fires are breaking out, and the Mississippi River’s at near-record lows. Everyone in the central part of North America’s absolutely desperate for rain.

The Greenland heat dome’s had other effects as well. In late July 2012, melting broke out over 96 percent of the Greenland glacier! It won’t last, but it’s enough to raise eyebrows.

The West Coast’s the only place in North America where it’s been raining, and raining, and raining. They know what the UK’s been going through. They’re getting the same weather, for the same reason. They wish it would stop, too.

What’s wrong with a little rain?

This isn’t a little rain. This is rain with swans swimming through the streets of Worcester. This is rain that’s washed out backyard parties and drowned out beach parties, not just for a weekend, but for the entire summer!

This is rain that’s been pouring day after day after day, with no end in sight. April rain set a record. The period from April to June set a rain record. June hasn’t set a record, it’s still only the second grayest June in recorded history, with only 119.2 hours of sunshine total throughout the entire month. The total rainfall in June’s more than twice what it should be, at 145.3 mm, but even that’s light compared to April and May.

Of course it’s made a huge dent in the sale of swimwear and garden furniture. Who wants to sit outside?

Even Britain’s iconic chip business has been affected. The potatoes are rotting in the fields, and that’s pushing up the prices at local chip wagons. Now that’s just unBritish.

Temperatures haven’t helped. Just one week before the Olympics, people in London hadn’t seen the thermometer edge above 16 degrees. This week, the thermometer’s jumped in the opposite direction, with blistering temperatures over 31 degrees, but no one expects that to last.

It’s the UK, so of course things are going to go on as usual as much as possible. Most of the Diamond Jubilee festivities hung in there grimly. Even the record-breaking boat regatta down the Thames went on as planned through pouring rain, although Prince Philip ended up in hospital with pneumonia afterwards. He’s not even British by birth, but he knows all about British stubbornness in the face of the unavoidable.

So what happens to the Olympics?

Well, with a little bit of luck, visitors who’re coming to the Opening Ceremony probably won’t notice a thing. That unfamiliar fiery globe in the sky’s finally made an appearance and then some, and there’s been no major flood alerts in the UK for three whole days. It’s like the great Thermostat in the Sky’s been flipped from “wet and miserable” to “sweltering.”

But the jet stream’s still nowhere near as bendy as it’s supposed to be. When the jet stream sets up as small waves and straight east-west lines, that’s a very stagnant pattern that won’t change anytime soon. Extreme heat’s been in the forecast, and now cold rain’s back in the forecast again for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. In the last days before the 2012 Olympics, bookies have been offering odds of 3/1 that it would rain, and 66/1 that the Olympic torch would be extinguished while the last person carried it into the stadium. That’s actually worse odds than bookies were offering the previous week.

Worst of all, if it stays below 16 degrees Celsius, the beach volleyball teams are going to be wearing leggings. Now that’s just wrong.