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British newspaper demands it simply stop raining

Saturday - 7/14/2012, 11:56am  ET

By RAPHAEL SATTER
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) - Just. Stop. Raining.

That was the unusual plea published in an editorial in The Times of London on Saturday, a measure of Britons' growing frustration with months of miserable weather.

"Let us make our position crystal clear: We are against this weather," the venerable newspaper wrote in an unsigned opinion piece. "It must stop raining, and soon."

The U.K. is slogging through some of the wettest conditions in recent history. Nearly every day seems to bring showers, sprinkles, drizzles, or downpours. On Saturday alone, England's Environment Agency registered some 75 flood alerts and warnings across the country, including the west England county of Shropshire, where fire and rescue officials received an anguished phone call from a woman who found herself waist-deep in water overnight.

Area manager Martin Timmis said he was seeing flash floods almost every week as storms dumped more water on the already-saturated ground of a country not unused to wet weather.

"What's unprecedented is that this is becoming a regular occurrence," he said in a telephone interview. "The rain comes down and it's got nowhere to go."

The soggy scenario has been repeated around the U.K., with summer music festivals washed out, sporting events soaked, and spirits dampened by the non-stop precipitation. Earlier this month the MFEST music festival in the English city of Leeds _ where The Human League, Texas, Bob Geldof and Cher Lloyd were all booked to perform _ was canceled due to the foul weather.

This week the Hit Factory Live, scheduled to feature pop princess Kylie Minogue, was canceled after London's Hyde Park was turned into a mucky quagmire.

Last week torrential downpours forced organizers to turn fans away from qualifying rounds of the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. Rain also delayed play and forced the roof to close at Sunday's Wimbledon tennis final, which saw Andy Murray lose out to Roger Federer as disappointed fans camped out in the mud outside Centre Court.

Britain's Meteorological Office says the jet stream, the narrow band of fast-moving wind which flows west to east across the Atlantic, may be in part to blame for the run of foul weather. In a blog post the weather service explained that the jet stream generally resides north of Britain during the summer months, guiding unsettled weather systems away from the country. This year, however, the jet stream has been stubbornly stuck to the country's south, "guiding those systems straight to us" and leading to the wettest June on record.

In its editorial, The Times lamented that the country was full of discounted swimwear, unsold garden furniture, and unused barbecues. It even said that the country's potato harvest has been affected _ pushing up the price of chips _ or fries, to Americans.

"When the proverbial cheapness of chips comes under threat, The Times says enough is enough," the editorial said.

"The British climate is supposed to be unpredictable," it continued. "At the moment, it is anything but. If sustained sunshine is too much to ask for, most of us would settle for a little bit of fickle."

Met Office spokeswoman Sarah Holland was apologetic, saying in an email that while the weather was disappointing, "unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it."

Holland said that "some more pleasant conditions" were forecast over the next month, when the Olympic Games get underway, although there was little sign of that in London on Saturday, where the skies were a threatening whitish grey.

Holland added that Sunday "will be a much brighter and sunnier day than today," but then she added, "with only light showers at times."

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Online:

The editorial: http://thetim.es/OEOgKG(subscription required)

The Met Office explains Britain's soggy summer: http://bit.ly/MmNVgW

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Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.li/twitter


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)