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Fairweather friend

Rain will not stop play at this year's Olympic Games, thanks to scientists from Salford University who will be working with meteorologists from around the world to track the weather during the September event.

Neil Fox and Michael Sleigh from Salford's school of environment and science will be using Gandolf, a short-range forecasting system developed by the Met Office, to monitor weather patterns over Sydney. Gandolf can predict the first signs of rain, thunder or hail more than 90 minutes in advance of a deluge.

"The Olympics attract billions of TV viewers and great amounts of sponsorship, so if the organisers are informed well in advance that fast-approaching rain is going to develop into thunder and lightning over the stadium, it gives them the confidence to act accordingly," Dr Fox said.

As a trial visit to Sydney last autumn was accompanied by warm weather, Dr Fox is hopeful that the athletes will compete in optimum conditions.

"Of course, it would be good for our research if there were a few thunderstorms this year, but I would not wish that on the athletes," he said.

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