17th February

Hi All,

At first sight this might look like a nice set of steps down to a river but it isn’t.

It is a car park next to Market Harborough railway station.

Over the years it’s been flooded more and more to a point now where it is hardly used in the winter because of the threat of flooding. I think this picture highlights a number of key points ; firstly whoever granted planning permission had very little knowledge of the potential for flooding (bit of a give away really since the River Jordan ((not that one)) flows along that row of posts in the foreground and secondly, that flooding is becoming more of an issue for the U.K & Ireland.

Storm Dennis – image courtesy of Windy.com

The image above graphically highlights the difference between a normal low pressure system (right) and an extremely intense one that was Storm Dennis(left). The actual centre of Dennis tracked up towards Iceland over the weekend, so we missed the strongest winds and most intense rainfall, not that you would have known it.

Some stats

Below are rainfall figures from a weather station situated near Abergavenny, I think they speak for themselves. I know many of you across The South West, South Wales, north of England and Scotland would have recorded similar figures for February….

It isn’t the volume of rainfall we have experienced which is at the heart of the problem, it’s the frequency. Specifically the no. of wet days vs. the no. of dry days has been seriously out of kilter this autumn / winter.

Yes, we have had wet periods of weather over the autumn / winter before, nothing strange in that, but what we normally also have is periods of dry down that let soils dry up and river / land water levels return to normal before the next rainfall event.

In the wettest areas of the country this just hasn’t happened as you can see from the graph below ;

For an area like the south west of England, the last 5 1/2 months have recorded an average of 81% wet days with less than 20% dry. So 8 out of every 10 days is wet. Try maintaining a sports surface and keeping punters expectations happy on those stats ! But try we do 🙂

For sure, there is a global weather phenomenon going on here but there’s also a local environmental one. Pictures like the car park above are commonplace now because of the vast number of houses being built around existing infrastructure, hard surfaces put down which were once pasture and of course more and more lawn areas are committed to hard surfaces and even plastic. The net effect is less absorptive surfaces / areas and therefore more run off.

Some bean counter somewhere thinks this all makes great sense, but you can’t put infrastructure in place without thinking about the consequences……Boris.

If you look at our industry, this spell of weather has been going on since September 22nd / 23rd, 2019. That’s 5 months by my reckoning…..

Has it been the wettest spell of weather we have endured ?

Probably.

Has it been the wettest spell of weather with the least amount of dry down periods in-between ?

Definitely.

Has it been the most mentally challenging that I can remember over the last 31 years ?

Without a doubt.

On that last point, my thoughts go out to all of you that are affected. This week’s blog won’t have an agronomic section because after the 2nd storm in 7 days, there isn’t a great deal of ‘agronomic’ going on in our industry. If you’re staring at a flooded golf course, cricket square or winter season pitch and wondering when you are going to get a break from this, I don’t think a section on agronomic notes is helpful to you.

So without further ado, let’s see what’s in store this week and next week….

General Weather Situation

So the theme for this week is for high pressure to build south of the U.K but for it to remain unsettled. This will have the effect of tipping the rain picture up country and so most of the rain we will see this week will be north and north west. This is a big concern because particularly the north west of England has been clattered over the last few months and more rain heading its way is not what it needs. Flood defences are stretched to their limit currently and will remain so throughout this week across the north and north west of the U.K. It may give some partial relief though to the south of the country and particularly South Wales, which like the north west of England got hammered by Storm Dennis. In this area we will still see rain this week, but it’ll be pushing through quickly so amounts won’t be close to what we got over the weekend.

So Monday sees a band of rain showers pushing over Ireland and the U.K heading from west to east. These showers are being pushed along by a strong westerly wind, somewhat chillier than the weekend. The main shower band is across the north of Ireland, South Wales and Central Scotland. Through the afternoon we will see a continuation of these showers with The South West, South Wales and the north-west of England / Central Scotland most likely to see the heaviest bursts I’m afraid. Away from these areas you’ll have a sunshine and blustery showers type of day and in some areas it will represent a good drying day. Temperature-wise, down from the weekend when we touched into the low teens though this went largely unnoticed. So 8-10°C will be the norm today.

Overnight into Tuesday and those showers will have relented in most places with the exception of the west of Scotland which will be seeing wintry showers from the off. As we go through Tuesday morning another band of showers will push into the western coasts of England, Wales and Ireland and move eastwards slowly. By the afternoon most of Ireland will be seeing rain, but away from these western coasts we will again see another largely dry day with a good drying wind to boot. Through the course of Tuesday afternoon that band of rain over Wales and the north west of England will sink south and eastwards, clearing Ireland as it does so, so a wetter end to the day across central and southern counties. Again a strong westerly / south-westerly wind in situ on Tuesday keeping temperatures in the 8-10°C zone.

Mid-week and overnight sees a temporary ridge of high pressure push in but along with that comes a rain front which will push into Kerry from first light and then cross Ireland quickly during the morning working its way north and eastwards. By Wednesday lunchtime the rain will be into The South West, Wales and The North West and during the afternoon it’ll move inland becoming isolated to the north and west of Ireland as it does so. At this stage the heaviest rain looks to affect North Wales, The North West / Lakes and south-west Scotland. By dusk that rain will be dissipating across central areas and clearing by midnight. across Wales and central areas. Further north across The Lakes and the west / north-west of Scotland that rain will remain adding to high rainfall totals on already saturated ground. At the same time we will see another band of rain across Ireland pushing through in the early hours of Thursday morning. Slightly lighter winds on Wednesday but if anything feeling chillier under that rain with 6-8°C likely.

Thursday sees a re-run of Wednesday with rain across Ireland pushing across The Irish Sea into the west of the U.K by dawn. This band of rain will fall as wintry showers across the north west and Scotland but it will dissipate as it moves inland. Ireland should dry up as we progress through Thursday morning as should Central Scotland with some sunny intervals developing. That said you can expect those wintry showers to persist across the west of Scotland / north west of England and inland across The Pennines / Peak District. Through the afternoon that band of rain / sleet sinks south and east across central areas but again it dissipates as it does so. By dusk it should have cleared all of the U.K and Ireland. Stronger winds again on Thursday but feeling milder with temperatures nudging double figures, expect 9-11°C.

Closing out the week on Friday we see a dry start across the U.K & Ireland but not for long as a new band of rain pushes into the north-west of Scotland and Ireland and sinks slowly south and east during the morning. At this stage it looks to mainly affect the north and north west of the U.K and Ireland for the morning anyway but during the afternoon this mix of rain, sleet and snow (over elevation) will sink move southwards across Ireland and the north of England as well. By dusk on Friday the western coastline of the U.K looks wet with some high rainfall totals predicted for The North West ( sorry). The south, south east and eastern counties look to stay dry through the day and may not see the rain at all. Strong to gale force winds on Friday pegging back the temperature to the 7-9°C area.

The outlook for the weekend doesn’t actually look so bad although they’ll still be plenty of rain around. Saturday sees a sunshine and blustery showers type of day with longer spells of rain and wintry showers again forecast for the west / north-west of Scotland. That strong westerly wind remains in situ I’m afraid but you will see some sunshine between those showers across Ireland, the north / south of England and Wales. It’ll also feel milder with temperatures into the low double figures. On Saturday night we will see more rain push into the west of Ireland and this will cross Ireland and most of the U.K during the course of Saturday night / Sunday morning. By dawn on Sunday expect to see some rain / wintry shower mix still over western Scotland and the north of England but away from that we should have a dry start for most of the U.K and Ireland. Still the threat of blustery showers especially across North Wales, the north-west of England and western Scotland, but elsewhere dry, bright and blustery and temperatures creeping up into double figures.

Weather Outlook

When I sit down to look at the longer-term weather forecast (7-10 days) I normally concentrate on the GFS global forecasting model.

Now if you look at global forecasting models there are actually 2 of them…

The GFS (Global Forecasting System) is run by the United States, National Weather Service and the ECMWF, The European Medium Range Forecast Model, is based in the U.K, but supported collectively by 34 countries. Now among meteorologists there is constant debate as to which on is more accurate. The consensus appears to be that the ECMWF is the more accurate of the two, however it is less freely available than the GFS and updates on a less regular basis so a lot of models utilise the GFS model. Is there much difference ?

Below is the output for both models for the 27th of February.

I’d say they are broadly similar and show high pressure building south of the U.K through the course of next week. You will however notice that the isobars are packed tightly still so that means we will continue the windy and unsettled theme.

So expect next next to start with those winds dropping off from the weekend and giving us a calm start to the week though there will still be some rain around across Ireland and the north of England.  Through Tuesday we see the wind freshen from the north west and push some showers across the U.K and Ireland. Wednesday sees a continuation of a strong westerly wind and showers of rain, more north and west but unsettled all the same. Overnight into Thursday sees a further band of rain cross the U.K and Ireland accompanied by strong winds as low pressure passes over Scotland. Towards the end of next week we see a drier theme emerging with calmer winds and more settled conditions as high pressure attempts to build across the U.K. If it goes to plan that should put us dry, calm and possibly warm for the start of March.

Here’s hoping with everything crossed..

All the best.

Mark Hunt