Monthly Archives: December 2017

December 11th

Hi All,

I think the above image graphically illustrates how we all feel at this time of year running around in circles trying to get everything done for Christmas 🙂

Never been a fan of it myself but I do love winter. Waking up yesterday to a Whiteout and hearing the park behind me come alive with the sound of laughter, families building snowmen, sledging and having snowball fights, for me it’s what a proper winter is all about. Families at war and trudging round retail parks or the internet to buy something that will be discounted the day after you deliver it isn’t my cup of tea. I’d rather go fishing and indeed in my younger, more rebellious days, that’s exactly what I did 🙂

Enough of the Bah Humbug…….well winter arrived properly for The Midlands overnight Saturday with widespread snowfall that continued on and off through Sunday. Looking at the news I see that it wasn’t a universal whiteout and others further south simply got rain and cold temperatures. With cloud cover we barely touched freezing last night so I expect a good thaw today before more of a frost later tonight.

I looked back at my past blogs and the last time we recorded December snowfall in The Midlands was 2010 when we had our harshest winter conditions for a long time.

The weather situation isn’t quite the same though when you compare 2010 with 2017, although both events were caused when the jet stream dipped south and cold air formed into a trough pattern (see above). The difference is that in 2010, the cold air came from the east and in 2017 the cold air is coming from the north west / west and that means in my books that the latter is likely to change back to a milder airflow whereas in 2010 it didn’t. My PaddyPower White Christmas bets look less secure for this reason 🙁

So how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

Well Monday sees a sneaky Bay of Biscay low pressure impacting on the south of England and this is bringing a mix of snow, sleet and rain as I type this. This frontal system will push east along the south coast through the morning and afternoon but may affect the south east of England pretty much all day so a wet and cold one for you lot today. Tricky to predict whether this will be snow, sleet or rain, I plump for the wetter stuff though. The north west of Scotland and Central Highlands is likely to pick up snow showers on and off through today. North and south of this snowfall / wintry showers, we will have a quiet, settled day with the sun breaking through across The Midlands as the cloud cover thins. Further north you’ll already be seeing the sunshine over northern England after a keen frost, whilst over Wales and Ireland, save for a few wintry showers over Donegal and the Wicklow Mountains I think, this week will start cold and bright with some patchy cloud. Temperatures varying between 1-4°C depending on if you see the sun and winds light to moderate and from the north so feeling raw.

Onto Tuesday and another quiet day but with clear skies the day before it’s much more likely to start with a frost if you escaped one on Monday morning. Tuesday sees a change in the wind direction across Ireland, swinging round to the south west which will usher in slightly milder conditions and the inevitiable rain as well, reaching the west of Ireland around lunchtime Tuesday before pushing east across country. This rain front will butt up against the cold air mass over the U.K and fall as snow over western Scotland from lunchtime I think before turning to rain, sleet at lower altitudes as the air warms up a little. For Wales and England a quiet, bright, settled day after a hard overnight frost and dry with no winter showers likely except for the north west of England as that rain front crosses The Irish Sea late on Tuesday night and encounters cooler air. Winds will be moderate and from the west so feeling ever-so-slightly milder with temperatures likely to hit mid-single figures in the sunshine (gosh golly)

Mid-week and Wednesday sees that rain front push across the U.K overnight falling as snow again over The Scottish Highlands. By morning rush hour we will see alot of rain across the southern half of the country and again The South East may be in the firing line. Ireland will start mainly dry with just some vestiges of that rain and possibly wintry showers over the Wicklow Mountains first thing before it moves off into The Irish Sea. It won’t be long though before more rain pushes in from The Atlantic, but mainly affecting The Midlands northwards across Ireland. As we progress through the afternoon, that rain will clear in the south and we will just see more persistent rain, sleet and snow across the northern half of Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England. Still cold enough to fall as snow across The Pennines I think. Temperature-wise, it’ll vary from 4°C in that wintry rain to a mind-numbing 8°C across the south of England in moderate to strong westerly winds.

Onto Thursday and less than a week away from the shortest day 🙂 (ah the optimist in me makes a brief appearance). So overnight we see another significant rain front push in from the west across Ireland and by dawn it is affecting most of the U.K, with perhaps just the Central Highlands north remaining dry. Ireland will also start wet across most of the country. This rain will still fall as sleet and possibly snow on the higher elevations of Wales and England. Through the morning this rain will push eastwards to leave a swath across the northern spine of England and another across The South East before pushing off into The Channel and North Sea respectively. Ireland will see most of the rain clear the east through the morning, but the west will hang onto rain through the day I am afraid. By Thursday evening the only remaining moisture will be across The South West of England, south west Munster and north east Scotland (where it’ll likely fall as snow). Similar temperatures to earlier in the week, so 4-5°C will be the norm in a moderate to strong westerly wind veering north westerly later.

Rounding out the week on Friday and we see a subtle change in wind direction from westerly to north westerly and that’ll shave a few precious degrees off the temperature I think. So Friday sees a mixture of rain, sleet and snow across Wales, the north west of England, the west of Scotland and central regions of Scotland as well. Through the morning this will drift south and possibly fizzle out as it does so to leave most of the U.K, bright and cold. The same for Ireland I think, bright and cold. The exception (and there’s always one when it comes to weather :)) will be Central Wales and the north east of Scotland which will see wintry showers through the course of the day. As we approach dusk, a front of rain and wintry showers is projected to push into eastern England, East Anglia and settle down for the evening before drifting south across London and The South East. A raw day with the wind pushing round to the north later. Clearing skies and a northerly wind point the way to a frost on Friday night / Saturday morning for many areas.

Looking to the weekend and the weary pilgrimage to the local shops / retail park for many, how do things look ?

Well Saturday looks the potentially better day of the weekend with cold, bright conditions but essentially dry for most areas after a hard nights frost. Cloudier across the west and north initially but I think the sun will break through for most areas on Saturday. Ireland though could pick up some heavy rain for the 2nd half of Saturday and this will push eastwards into Wales and England overnight I think. Sunday is tricky to call as we have another Bay of Biscay low sneaking along the south coast of England on Sunday and this could bring more in the way of unsettled conditions and rain for Sunday to the south of England. Either way I think Sunday is potentially a wetter day for many places with more cloud cover so if you want a decent winters walk, get out of bed early on Saturday whilst the frost is still hard in the ground and then you won’t end up walking with most of the field on your boots 🙂

Weather Outlook

With Unisys capped at a 10-day outlook and very little accuracy beyond that anyway, I can’t sit here and let you know how Christmas week is shaping up, that’ll have to wait till next week’s blog. That said I have a feeling that we will lose our trough pattern and that Christmas week will end up being mild, windy and wet, time will tell….

Monday next week still sees us in the trough pattern and potentially with rain / wintry showers moving along the south of England, depending on where the low ends up going. Elsewhere I think we will be quiet, dry and potentially frosty as we start next week with low to moderate northerly winds in situ. As we progress through Tuesday, these winds swing around to the west and usher in slightly milder weather and more in the way of rain for Ireland and the west of the U.K. This rain will I think push inland on Wednesday before a quieter day on Thursday for all of us. By Friday we see a very strong, Atlantic low pressure system in-bound and that will see us switch to a strong westerly airflow with milder temperatures, more rainfall and definitely very windy by the end of next week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Pre-Christmas Tipples…Spray Windows…

At this stage of December we start to look at applying a pre-Christmas tonic to keep us nice and tidy over the all-important Christmas to New Year period.

Looking at the above Meteoturf for the coming week, (this one is from a Kent location) it presents very little opportunity to get an application in because it’ll either be cold and frosty or slightly milder and raining / sleet, plus the wind looks like being tricky as well. I think the start of next week may be slightly better in terms of application conditions before we pick up the strong westerly airflow (if we do that is..)

Not all is lost this week though because I think for the south of England, Wales, The South West and Ireland, Thursday and Friday may present a spray opportunity but elsewhere I think we are limited because of higher moisture incidence, strong winds, cooler temperatures and therefore more likelihood of overnight frost.

Disease Activity

New activity on old scars 07/12/17

Last week saw some mild conditions (briefly) and these were consistent enough to initiate disease activity around the edges of existing scars, as shown above…

Looking at the data from my own little nifty Netatmo weather station (which I’ll be reviewing next week) reveals why….

You can clearly (hopefully) see from the graph above that the air temperature started increasing around 2.00 a.m. crossing the all important 10°C barrier at that time and then extending through to 10.00 a.m. before dropping off sharply as the wind direction changed.

Likewise the humidity was always above 90% but showed an upward trend from around the same time, peaking at 100% at 7.30 a.m and remaining at 100% for the next 3hrs.

So we can see that a fungal pathogen like Microdochium nivale had around 8 hours of consecutively, favourable climatic conditions in which to grow and that’s why some of you may have seen new activity around the periphery of an existing scar (because the population is highest here and so the disease is starting from an elevated level).

On the flipside, I think it is also clear that these conditions were not conducive to new infection of a grass leaf and that’s probably because of the duration of favourable climatic conditions, the maximum air temperature being too low or more likely, a combination of both of these.

Looking ahead I can’t see this combination of climatic conditions being repeated anytime soon so for me disease activity is likely to be low. (not that everyone agrees with that though disease modelling-wise)

Ok short and sweet this week, work beckons so next week I’ll be giving that all-important Christmas forecast prediction and identifying potential spray windows in the week up to Christmas.

All the best and stay safe if your area is tricky to get around….

Mark Hunt






December 4th

Hi All,

Just back from a beautiful fly fishing break in Mexico, a cracking country to visit, rich in wildlife and lovely weather as well.

It was quite an amazing experience wading across the salt flats targetting Bonefish in such beautiful surroundings. At one stage I had a 5ft Barracuda sitting 10ft to my left, a Stingray in front of me and a Black Tip Shark swimming on my right, all of them no threat at all.

Mind you one evening I took a walk along the local beach and waded in to my knees to cool down and escape the ankle-nipping mozzies, only to glance behind and spot a ‘v’ pattern cutting the surface a few feet away, heading in my direction. I was promptly joined by a big Black Tip Shark that ambled up so close to me that I could touch it before it went about its business, amazing.

Chatting to my guides during the week they explained to me that their weather down on the Yucatan Peninsular has changed over the last 10 years with less reliable rainfall and more hurricanes at times of year when they didn’t use to appear.

In short their seasons are changing as well.

Whilst I was away sunning myself, I gather you picked up a pretty cold snap with some snowfall as well. Thanks to Craig for this picture from a bleak looking Ramside, Co. Durham. Quite a contrast, speaking of which I think we will experience one later this week when we change from a mild, south westerly airflow to a raw northerly one late on Thursday with more risk of snow again for the weekend for some I think.

General Weather Situation

So we kick off Monday with a pretty pleasant start to the week really, mild temperatures than of late, possibly pushing into double figures down south and dry as well on the whole apart from some risk of light rain over north west Scotland. Winds will be light to moderate and from the north west and they’ll be some light cloud cover and sunny intervals.

Tuesday sees pretty much a repeat of this weather situation with no risk of overnight frost and again a dry start to the day for most of the U.K and Ireland. The exception will be the north west of Scotland where rain will push in during the late afternoon and then cross country into more central areas of Scotland later on Tuesday evening. Down south and across the west we will be dry, with hazy sunshine and light to moderate westerly winds pushing temperatures close to double figures, normal for the time of year.

Overnight into Wednesday we see a rain front push into the west of Ireland crossing over into Leinster in time for the morning rush hour. By mid-morning this rain will be into the west of Scotland, north west England and then Wales by lunchtime and thereafter it’ll slowly move inland but principally the rain will affect the west side of the U.K on Wednesday, consolidating into heavier rain as we approach dusk. Overnight this rain will push inland clearing Scotland and Ireland as it does so to affect central and southern regions of the U.K as well through Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Milder still across Ireland and the west with low double figure / early teen temperatures in a strong south westerly wind. Milder temperatures compared to Tuesday for the U.K I think, maybe just pushing into the low double figures.

Overnight into Thursday we see the beginning of that change I referred to earlier, starting in Scotland with the wind swinging round to the north west to bring a raw feel to the day, much lower temperatures and the risk of snow showers.  Further south that overnight rain will still be with us so a wet start to Thursday for many and it may take till lunchtime for that rain to move away from the south and east of the U.K. Ireland should have a much drier day on Thursday but a raw one as temperatures drop in that keen, north westerly wind. So a cold, bright day here with lots of sunshine but an increasing risk of wintry showers as we approach dusk. A west / east split on Thursday with wintry showers likely to affect western coasts through the day, but further south and east, it’ll be sunny and dry once the rain has departed. The south will hang onto that mild air the longest, so a mild one across Central England with double figure temperatures likely, a marked contrast to Scotland which will barely make mid-single figures.

Closing out the week on Friday and overnight that cold air has spread its grip across all of the U.K with snow showers likely across Scotland, western coasts of England, Wales and The South West. A wintry feel across The Irish Sea as well with snow showers affecting western and north western coasts of Ireland overnight into Friday and that risk remaining through the day. A really bitter day on Friday up north with temperatures lucky to break into the very low single figures and feeling much colder in that biting wind. Further south we will be dry, dull and cold with a prominent north westerly wind in situ. Through the day that risk of wintry showers remains across Ireland, Scotland, the north west of England, Wales and possibly The Midlands as well, punctuated by some sunshine. A raw day for us all.

So with that change in the weather at the end of the week, how are we looking for the coming weekend ?

Well for most of us it looks like being a very cold, bright, sunny winter weekend with lots of sunshine but with a strong north westerly wind producing a real wind chill and pegging temperatures back on Saturday and Sunday to low single figures. They’ll be a risk of snow showers as well, more so along the western coast of Scotland, England and Wales, with some pushing down to lower levels on Sunday and more inland as well.

Weather Outlook

So more like traditional winter weather for the start of December, but will the cold snap continue I wonder ?

So next week looks to start quiet and frosty with a settled feel to Monday as that cold low pressure system moves off to the east. It doesn’t last though as we have a new Atlantic low set to push in and change the wind direction to the west and bring rain as well. Initially to the north and west on Tuesday but this will push further south and east on Wednesday to affect all areas accompanied by some very strong westerly winds.  So an unsettled week with strong winds and a slightly milder feel through mid-week before those winds switch to a more northerly aspect again and bring colder air down and so a heightened risk of wintry showers as we approach the end of next week.

Agronomic Notes

With this being the first blog of December we can look back at November and ascertain what kind of a month it was and more importantly how it compared to October.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Thame Location

So first off we can see that November 2017 came in with a total months GDD figure of 67.5 which places it about average year-on-year and markedly higher than 2016.

Year-to-date we are comfortably up on any previous year so will definitely mark 2017 as the warmest year-to-date from a GDD perspective.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – UK Locations

Looking at the GDD / Rainfall data for 2017 we can see a pretty consistent picture in terms of temperature / growth for the different locations.

The contrast between Troon on the west coast of Scotland and Swansea on the south coast of Wales is striking in terms of total GDD with Troon at 41.6 and Swansea at 95.7, basically twice as much temperature in the Welsh location compared to the Scottish location.

Rainfall is again light for a winter month (as it was in October) in some locations with The Midlands and the south of England coming in driest at 37.5mm and 32.1mm for Northampton and Guilford respectively. I appreciate the north west and south west of England won’t be sharing my sentiments but I haven’t seen the rivers and reservoirs around here as low since winter 1975, the year before the drought of 1976.

If we don’t get significant rain here over the next 3 months then we will definitely be facing a drought order come the spring of 2018 and if you remember the last time this happened the golf industry wasn’t treated well at all.

GDD Summary – November 2017 – Irish Locations

For the Irish locations we see significant variability between locations in terms of total GDD for the month, with Dublin suprisingly coming in as the lowest GDD locationfor the month. (can’t think of that ever happening before?). Looking at the statistics from the Dublin location I can see very few dry days and so it looks to me like you had a cool, dull, wet month in November. Contrast this with Bray where they had nearly 50% more GDD and 36% of the rainfall of the Dublin location and you can see why being near the coast pays dividends sometimes. The west and south west of Ireland definitely picked up the milder weather in November with Valentia, Wexford and Cork the three highest GDD monthly totals. For Co. Mayo it wasn’t a great one, with low GDD and high rainfall, not nice for you chaps.

October – November 2017 Comparison – Growth and Disease Activity

Above is a graph showing the daily Growth Potential during October and November and straight away you can see the difference between the high daily totals during October and the much lower totals in November.

I believe that Microdochium nivale requires a minimum temperature for a set period to infect turf and furthermore I think that we typically hit this set of conditions during August, September and October. Once we reach November and temperatures drop away we no longer hit this minimum temperature for long enough to cause new infection of fine turf. (November 2015 was the exception to this though)

What we do see however is new activity around existing scars because it is in this area where we have established a high population earlier in the autumn and so it doesn’t need sustained temperature to increase the population level.

Below is a schematic of a disease scar where the original infection started in October 2016 and we then saw 3 successive periods after this when new activity around the original infection site occurred and the disease scar grew outwards as a result.

These periods of activity occurred in December 2016, February 2017 and March 2017.

This year we again saw disease scarring in October 2017 and new activity around existing scars in November 2017. What I don’t believe we have seen is new infection in November 2017 unless you guys and girls care to tell me different 🙂

The problem we face is that once we have an established disease scar the only real fungicides that stopped this becoming active again are either no longer available (Prochloraz / Tebuconazole combination) or shortly to become no longer available (Iprodione) and this is why it is going to be so important come autumn 2018 to have our ducks in a row with respect to disease prevention.

Ok that’s all for this week, onto a very long things-to-do-list with a fair dose of jet lag to boot 🙁

All the best….

Mark Hunt