Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 28th


Hi All,

For us here in The Midlands, the milder air and rain arrived as projected, but not before dumping more snow on Friday night initially. The thaw set in on Saturday proper and this was followed by rain, so a double whammy. My rain gauge measured 24mm combined snow and rain, not sure if this is accurate, but the flooding around here has to be seen to be believed..At present I believe we’re sitting on the edge of a peak and trough situation, so one week we’re going to go mild and likely wet, the next cooler / colder and dry and the weather is going to alternate between the two, rapidly. The three features of the weather this week are the strong winds, frequent rain and a milder airstream, particularly from Tuesday onwards, but there may be a drier spell on the horizon.

General Weather Situation

Monday is set to start off dry, with a frost here (not expected!) and for the most part of the day, it’ll be sunny. Over Ireland cloud cover will build from the west early doors and this heralds the arrival of rain mid-morning into the west coast of Munster / Connacht, pushing eastwards across Ireland through the day. This rain will reach the south-west / Wales and west coast of the U.K, mid-afternoon and will push eastwards through into the evening to affect all areas, weakening as it does in intensity. Tuesday is a bit of a re-run weather pattern-wise, but this time the rain is coming into the south-west of England early doors and pushing diagonally (\) into Ireland and the rest of the U.K. That rain may be potentially heavy for the south-west and Wales during the day. (not what you need I know). Winds will be strong and from the south-west / west and temperatures will be on the mild side in the south, but chillier in the wind in the north.

For Wednesday, that rain will hang on in the south of England, Wales, the north and Scotland, but it’ll be a brighter day and with mild temperatures and a strong wind, a drying one as well thankfully. For Ireland, it should be reasonably dry, with a chance of showers along the west coast, otherwise fine and dandy. They’ll be blustery showers for most areas of the U.K  through the day, but these will peter out in the afternoon. For Thursday, another rain front is into Ireland early doors and pushing eastwards into the U.K, with rain for western areas from early morning. This rain quickly pushes across the U.K through the morning to leave blustery showers behind and any further rain confined to the west coast. As we go into Friday, that rain is confined to Scotland and the north of England and will turn to wintry showers as temperatures drop away from their mid-week maximum, so feeling chillier everywhere. Ireland sees some rain in north-west Connacht and the chance of blustery showers pretty much anywhere, but it should end the day clear and bright, but noticeably cooler. For the weekend, there’s a concern over a heavy rain band that’s currently projected to just skim along the south coast of England, one to watch as this could easily move northwards and dump heavy rain in the south of England. The wind will do an about face and swing round to the east and north through the day, so feeling cold, but bright. By Sunday, a high pressure system is projected to push in and butt up against a continental low pressure system, so this will turn the winds northwards later on Sunday, though for most it should be a nice day. The presence of that low is key and it may give a risk of wintry showers along the east coast of the U.K particularly. (Depending on how much moisture is in the low)

Weather Outlook

Next week is a hard call because we have a classic – west high vs. an east low and depending on who wins, the weather will either be drier, cooler and settled after the early part of the week or it’ll stay cold, but with a risk of snow showers. My bet is that the high will win the day by mid-week, so drier, colder and settled from mid-week, next week is my call, but like I say, it’s a tricky one 🙂

 Agronomic Notes

Well I hope your turf area comes out of the snow looking healthy because I’ve already had some reports of Fusarium / Snow Mold developing under the snow and with such a quick transition from cold to mild, this looks like being quite aggressive in places. It is particularly likely to be an issue on the outer area of existing scars for reasons covered in my blog posted on the 11th January and / or on areas that went into the snow looking suspect. Spray days are going to be tricky this week because of the strong wind and frequent rain showers with maybe Friday being the best day (not ideal I know), but this depends on where you’re located, so for a more local forecast, click onto your Headland Weathercheck location. (assuming you have one set up with us, if not, get in touch)

If it follows the pattern of other snow events, the higher height of cut turf can be more affected by snow mold than the lower height of cut of turf, specifically because the turf becomes matted under the weight of the snow and a microclimate forms betwen the matted turf and the soil surface. The plus side is that these areas are often not in direct play (though tees can be an issue) so a bit of overseeding once the weather turns and they’re away again.

With the high soil moisture levels present and more rain coming in, anaerobicity and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) is a potential issue for many, so my advice would be to stay off areas as much as practically feasible till things dry out and then get some holes punched in to input oxygen.

Next week’s blog is looking a bit shakey as I’m over in San Diego doing some classes Monday and Tuesday and visiting the GIS Show, so I should be back to normal w/c 11th February. (as normal as I am that is..)

All the best.

Mark Hunt




January 25th – Mini Update









Hi All,

Firstly, thanks to everyone that came along at Harrogate this week and to any of you who found me consistently, busy, yapping when you came by, my apologies, always a juggling act.

Thought I’d do a quick update really orientated for those of you with snow cover, so that’s most of the U.K, but not Ireland I believe. The question I’m getting is “When is the mild air coming, when is the snow going ??”

Currently we still have cold air sitting over the U.K, but as mentioned earlier on the week, mild air is on the way from the west. At present it’s over Ireland and falling as rain, but by the evening, it’ll reach the west of the U.K, hit that cold air and initially fall as snow, so a bit of a re-run of last Friday for awhile. The critical difference though is that the airstream is quite strong from the west, so instead of dumping snow, that milder air will keep on going, so temperatures will slowly rise overnight and that snow should have turned to rain. Depending on how much snow you have, for many places that may be enough to get rid of it, but of course it’ll make life tricky if the ground is frozen underneath because they could be flooding and wet, unstable surfaces initially.

As you can see from the graphic above, lifted off my Weathercheck portal, the top diagram shows a profile of the temperature through the next week and you can see it is moving from blue (freezing) to green (milder) overnight and that’s the key to why we should get rain, not snow prevailing. I know we don’t want more rain, but 2 things, we’ve been dry for awhile and secondly, it is the best way to get rid of snow cover quickly.

By Monday, that milder air is really pushing in, so I expect double figure air temperatures, perhaps 12-13°C early next week and more rain I’m afraid during the week (specifics on Monday). This will of course thaw out any remaining snow very quickly. We’re not completely out of the woods yet though because towards the end of next week, temperatures will drop again and we will return to a risk of snow, but already I can see a milder air stream behind it, so hopefully the next bout should be short-lived.

The first 2 weeks of February are traditionally the coldest of the year, beyond that, we’re on the way to spring, not a moment too soon in my opinion, so we may have a little bit more ‘grinning and bearing it’ to do, but the light at the end of tunnel is coming into view 🙂


Have a good weekend, don’t forget it is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend, and with the snow, there’s a lot more birds in the garden at the moment searching for food. Mine looked like a rugby pitch when I got home because a flock of Fieldfares has found the apples I put out for the Blackbirds, never had them in the garden before, guess they must be hungry. So if you’re looking for something to do with the kids that doesn’t involve money, a USB port, headphones, a blank expression and no social interaction (god help us), click on the link below….

RSPB Garden Birdwatch

All the best…

Mark Hunt


January 21st – Live from Harrogate….


Hi All,

Made the journey up yesterday with my indomitable colleagues (Andy, Iain, Adi) as the forecast for today in the north-east of England looked dodgy. Yesterday it was the south and The Midlands that got clattered so tricky driving early on (nearly took out a toll booth on the M6 Toll Road when I took a wrong turn) but north of Nottingham it was fine. So first up I’ll do a Harrogate special as I know a lot of lads and lasses are flicking a coin on conditions / whether to make the journey, etc (just like we were yesterday)

Harrogate Update (11.05 a.m.)

video link – IMG_1362

Harrogate had very little snow as of yesterday evening (1-2″), but from midnight till 5 a.m. it’s had about 4″ and its still snowing now, however the rest of the country has had the worst now for this week, so conditions will only be improving after today. The scenario in my mind is this – Main motorways are running reasonably south of here and by the time most people are travelling up (Tuesday – Thursday), they’ll be fine, as will the local roads in and out of Harrogate. If you click on the video link you can see traffic is moving ok in the centre of Harrogate, so by later today, tomorrow, no problem provided we don’t get a lot more snow today. Even then, I think the gritters are well ahead of the game. Those travelling by air into Leeds Bradford, Manchester, again I expect disruption today, but thereafter should be fine. So if you’re planning to travel up today, I’d leave it till early afternoon and let the traffic and gritters get rid of the snow first, by tomorrow, you should be grand. Feel free to text or ring me for specifics on 07798 501109 before setting out.

 Click here for Meteoblue Harrogate Weatherlink

General Weather Situation

For Monday, we have a concentrated snow area sitting over the north-east of England and Scotland and this is slowly pushing north and westwards during the day, so south of here, it should be clear of snow, maybe some light showers coming in off The North Sea, but nothing to fret over. This snow will linger over Scotland through Monday night, but elsewhere it’ll be clear with a good frost, particularly over south, east and central areas. For Ireland, there’s a band of rain, sleet, snow (higher ground) moving into south-west Munster currently and that’s where it’ll stay most of the day to be joined by another band of the same moving up the east coast of Munster and Leinster into the night. There’s also a chance of sleet and snow moving up the west coast of Munster into Connacht, but nothing too heavy. For Tuesday, a quieter day snow-wise, still with some snow hugging the north-east coast of England and Scotland and perhaps some more lighter snow coming up the Bristol Channel into South Wales a.m., but nothing like what you’ve already had. Ireland looks to have a dull day with perhaps some sleet / rain / snow in south-east Munster later in the afternoon. It’ll be pretty dull, lot’s of cloud cover and winds will be moderate from the south / south-east / east over the U.K. Wednesday is pretty much a repeat, dull, lot’s of cloud cover and some light snow showers pushing in off the North Sea, more inclined to affect eastern coastal regions of the U.K than anywhere. For Ireland, again a chance of some moisture in south-west Munster, otherwise dull and cold like the rest of us. Thursday looks to be another re-run of the previous day, still some light snow showers on eastern coasts, maybe more to the south-east, but amounts will be light. Further west there’s a chance of the sun breaking through along western coasts, so not so bad there. All week I expect frosts at night for the U.K, but not to the extremes of last week, due to the cloud cover. For Ireland, there’s more chance of moisture along the west coast of Munster and Connacht during the day, but otherwise it remains dull and cool.

The end of the week sees a potential re-run of the end of last week initially, with a band of moisture moving in from the west and hitting the cold air over the U.K. Definitely for Ireland I’d say it’ll fall as rain, but for the U.K, we may have more snow initially, however the potentially good news is this moisture will I think push milder temperatures in with it, so although it may fall as snow to start with, temperatures will soon rise along with a change in direction of the wind to the west / south-west.

For the weekend, it looks like being mild, very windy and potentially pretty wet as a strong westerly, low pressure system pushes in from the Atlantic, don’t know about you but I’d rather have the snow gone and I’d like to see some grass again 🙂

Weather Outlook

Next week looks initially to be dominated by this low pressure system, so mild, windy and wet for the start of the week through till mid-week at least. Thereafter the low dissipates a little, but we’ll maintain a westerly air-stream, so a little cooler for the second half of the week, but less moisture around than for the start.

 Agronomic Notes

No notes this week I’m afraid as I didn’t get to see a lot of grass last week !!!!, nearly forgot though, thanks to Mike and Darragh for correctly identifying the flowering tree I posted last week as a  Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis rosea’ and for subtly pointing out that it is supposed to be flowering in January. I’ll stick to grass and the weather in future as I’m clearly crap on trees….

All the best, hope to see some of you this week at BTME !

Mark Hunt


Jan 19th – Snow Update

Hi All,

Just a quickie to update you on how the snow forecast looks this weekend and next week, particularly for people contemplating attending BTME Harrogate.

As you know the moist air came in from the west and dumped a load over Wales in particular, and I have to say here in The Midlands where they’re quoting 6 inches. (pnar) So the west and central areas took the brunt of it (1 ft in Wales) and the east and north of the U.K largely escaped the worst by my reckoning. Looking on the web cams for Leeds, Wetherby, there’s snow, but nothing like what we’ve got here. The outlook for this weekend is pretty quiet really with some snow showers coming in off The North Sea and mainly affecting the north of the country, so Harrogate may get a bit more today, but nothing heavy. Overnight temperatures will just dip below freezing.

The concern is Sunday / Monday because Meteoblue are projecting moisture coming off the continent (France) and pushing up the central and eastern side of the U.K and this may well hit the areas that have largely escaped so far. BUT and this is a big BUT, weather off the continent in my experience is very variable so it could move west or east, in other words, the situation is volatile.

If it tracks as projected it’ll reach the south-east of England late morning / lunchtime tomorrow and then track up north into The Midlands in the afternoon / evening, all the time pushing up the east side of the U.K. Overnight into Monday this snow band looks to be intensifying and at present it’ll be right over Harrogate, but as I’ve pointed out, this may change. Certainly Monday looks the worst travelling day at the moment, with less snow on Tuesday and then pretty clear at present for Wednesday and Thursday with a light thaw later in the week.

Road conditions-wise I think the east side of the country looks pretty good and so you’d hope getting about on major roads shouldn’t be too difficult, but that all depends on what comes Sunday and particularly Monday.

Decision-Making Information

Firstly, here’s the Meteoblue Weathercheck link for Harrogate, click it and it’ll show the up to date forecast, updated every 15 minutes.

BTME Weatherlink

To see on live weather radar which areas are being affected by snowfall, click on the link below ;

Meteoblue UK Rain & Snow Radar

Finally, for up to date (ish) traffic info, try these two links ;

Highways Traffic

AA Roadwatch – Live Traffic

I’m going to update on Sunday to give a more definitive on that potential of snow off the continent.


Mark Hunt

January 14th

Hi All,

What a difference 7 days makes! The weekend before this one I was cycling in shorts and a T-shirt, last Saturday I was suited up like a Winter Robin! Got a picture to emphasise how confused nature is last week (thanks Jeff), this Cherry (I think, never been good on tree I.D) is clearly under the impression that spring has arrived, it’s probably under a few cm of snow today! We had the dawn chorus kicking off in early January, as the birds were thinking spring was here, but I can tell you they’ve been very quiet of late.

Sure enough the snow has fallen overnight for some of us as that rain front from the west hit the cold air from the east, a la Friday’s blog. We’ve had a couple of cm here and I expect this to be added to during the day, before turning to rain later (hopefully). That mild air that I was projecting this time last week isn’t now going to get any further than Ireland during the week, so the outlook remains cold with further snow at the end of the week. I note the usual media-sensation headlines on the news, but as you’ll see if you click on this link, the BBC meteorologists are basically saying their (Met Office) forecast models can’t really forecast with much accuracy at the moment because of uncertainties in the jet-stream, ( there’s also a good explanation of why the weather is like this as well, i.e. topsy-turvy. (

General Weather Situation

The next band of rain, sleet and snow showers are already moving in-land and currently stretches from Aberdeen down to Cornwall. These will slowly move eastwards during the day, initially falling as snow from The Midlands east of this, but as rain and sleet further west where the milder air sits. Through the day as temperatures creep up, the snow is projected to turn to rain for most areas of the U.K, so that should clear any accumulations away. As we head into the evening, temperatures drop and then there’s a risk of the reverse happening along the east coast in particular, with snow showers projected to push in from The North Sea over the east and south-east areas of the U.K. For Tuesday, the risk of snow showers along the east coast remains, but inland it’ll be crisp, dry and frosty. By the end of Tuesday evening and overnight into Wednesday, a band of rain (|) pushes into west Connacht and Munster and moves eastwards, turning to snow over the mountains, so maybe a nice temporary dusting on Lugnaquilla. For the U.K, Wednesday looks to be cold and dry, with a hard overnight frost and perhaps the chance of some snow showers again for the far east coast of England. Thursday follows a similar pattern for the U.K, dry, cold, with a hard frost but in Ireland that rain will be reluctant to leave the east coast of Munster, Leinster and it’ll soon be joined by another band of heavish rain moving across Ireland (|) during Thursday and hitting the cold air over the U.K on Friday, so this is the day to watch in terms of further potential snowfall. If anything the chance of snow, rather than rain, is more likely on Friday because the colder air is more entrenched over the U.K mainland. So at present a high snow risk for Friday and perhaps extending overnight into Saturday. The weekend is a very hard one to call, as we have a pretty serious low pressure system on its way to us, packed with isobars, so it’ll be noticeably more windy, with the wind direction coming from the west, south-west. My take is that Saturday will start off cold with initially some snow showers over Scotland and the north of England, but further south I think it’ll start dry and when the moisture arrives later, it’ll fall as snow initially, but turn to rain later in the day. Sunday looks at this stage a very wet, windy day and pretty cold, but I think it’ll be rain, rather than snow we’re dealing with. If this changes I’ll update you at the end of the week.

 Weather Outlook

Next weeks weather looks to be dominated by this significant low pressure system that arrives at the weekend, so I think it’ll be very windy and wet, although with a bit of a milder airstream, at least for the south of England and Ireland. For Scotland and the north of England, this rain could easily fall as snow and if so, they’ll be significant falls with drifting. Thereafter, I think we’ll be mild seeing out January.

Agronomic Notes

Firstly, thanks for all your rainfall stats so far, please keep them coming….so far the driest area is now North Kent and the wettest, Devon.

My main contribution to agronomic notes was on Friday with the blog about Fusarium scarring and it’s development. Had a number of emails after I posted this and one contributor remarked that he had plugged a 2″ active scar to the edge of a green and within days it had grown to hole cup size, so the activity level during that mild spell was quite serious.

Next week, I’m doing a talk at BTME, just a quick 30-minute fringe jobbie and, as usual, I’m going to discuss (briefly) our 2012 weather, but put forward the scenario of what might happen if we have a peak weather event over the summer (so far this has not occurred). If it did occur, it would allow prolonged warm, hot conditions to extend into the U.K and bring record high temperatures, E.T and the like. Difficult to imagine now in the middle of January, but the fact is going forward we have to kit ourselves out to manage both extremes of temperature and rainfall. This encompasses drainage, irrigation, fertility, PGR’s, disease management and of course grass species. As two islands, I think we’re going to be protected to a certain extent, but if it does occur, it’s the south-east that’ll cop it for sure.

If you’re at Harrogate and have time, come along and listen, it’ll be in the Queens Suite on Wednesday from 12.00-12.30 p.m., it’s first-come, first-served and I think they’re are 28 places left. Ok advertising over, I move onto the interesting bit because I posed a question to a good chap over the Atlantic, Jon Scott, who is VP of Agronomic Services, Nicklaus Design. Jon and I exchange emails on an infrequent basis, but he gets to see a lot of turf situations in the U.S, so I asked him if he’s seeing the same issues as we are with weather extremes, bearing in mind the sub-polar jet stream that affects us, also flows across the U.S.

Below is his reply…..

“Mark, there is no doubt that we are being affected by the same jet stream meanderings and the associated extremes. For instance, Michigan, and particularly Northern Michigan is going through one of the mildest winters on record – moderate temperatures and low snowfall totals – which will not help raise the low water levels in the Great Lakes one bit. I was just passing through Western North Carolina on the way back to Florida and saw a Smokey Mountain reservoir that was clearly down by at least 20 ft from its former capacity. I was in Oklahoma in December (Stillwater) and noted that the residents are worried that another dust bowl scenario is setting up. Yet heavy rainfall continues to plague the Gulf Coast States and Florida as we speak. It is common practice here now for golf courses that have successfully maintained bentgrass greens for years in the transition zone are now switching to bermuda. Chicago and Detroit now find themselves in the transition zone, as does Milwaukee and Cleveland. Common bermuda is being found growing as far north as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Thus, our management dynamics are changing also and superintendents are struggling to figure out the right formulas for success. One wonders how many years of “highest temperatures on record” we will see before things stabilize. I’ll leave the reasons why up to the scientists like yourself. I never got caught up in the Global Warming Debate because for me there was no debate. This didn’t start happening yesterday. The key is for those who don’t want to believe that excess carbon is causing the problem at least acknowledge that the climate is changing and that we must change with it. There are no options to do otherwise”

Plenty to chew about on their side of the pond it seems…..

Ok, better get that talk written else we’re all going to be looking at a blank screen !!!!

Mark Hunt