Hi All,

Well it’s difficult to remember a time when we’ve been so consistently wet. Maybe the winter of 2000/ 2001 comes close, but certainly the end of December 2013 and the beginning of January 2014  to date, has been a concerted spell of rainfall such as we haven’t seen for awhile. We’ve also had (I believe) the warmest December on record, so you’d think we’d be under extremely heavy Fusarium pressure, but I don’t think we are and I think I’ve got a hunch why…

Rainfall Figures – Keep them coming please and cheers to everyone that’s already sent theirs..

The rainfall stats are coming in thick and fast and already it’s showing a different pattern to previous years in some respects, namely that clubs in the north weren’t the wettest on the whole, with that end of December battering down south, really changing the perspective.


Jet Stream schematic using graphic courtesy of NetWeather

Yet again, a wayward jet stream is to blame, this time it’s formed into a huge trough shape (see above) and this is doing 2 things, funnelling extremely cold air down from The Arctic to produce record snowfall and freezing temperatures in Canada and North America and it’s pushing those low pressures diagonally up across the U.K and Ireland, instead of diagonally down, so the rain hits the south first. The problem is we don’t know how long this pattern will stay for and particularly for Canada and North America, it could be set for a good while yet 🙁 There are signs though that it is changing for us in the near future.

Wildlife certainly thinks it’s going to go colder because my errant Hedgepiglet finally went into hibernation last week, that’s 6 weeks later than usual and courtesy of an IAMS Dog food and Mealworm diet, he was a big unit by the time he got his head down for a kip, so I should see him again in April when he wakes up 🙂

General Weather Situation

Last week I predicted colder, drier air this week, but that isn’t going to be the case I’m afraid, as that jet stream has conjured about a new low to push across and bring more rain mid-week. It is  getting colder though and with that the probability of snow from next weekend onwards is increasing in my humble opinion, so maybe winter will eventually start at the end of January this year ?

So Monday is looking like a dry start for most, except south-west Munster and north-west Connacht, where a heavy band of rain is moving across Ireland this morning. By late morning / early lunchtime that’s across to Leinster and then into the south-west of England and Wales. This rain band then pushes east across the U.K during dusk, falling as snow and wintry showers over Scotland. The wind will be from the south-west / south and temperatures will be in single figures, normal for January.

Overnight into Tuesday, we see a heavy, localised burst of rain push up from the continent into the south of England and this will bring more rain (totally unwlecome I’m afraid) through the early morning before it pushes off eastwards into The North Sea mid-morning. Elsewhere we’re looking dry for Tuesday morning , but don’t hold your breath because by lunchtime, a band of heavy rain pushes into the west coast of Ireland and moves eastwards across Ireland during the afternoon / early evening, making landfall with the west coast of the U.K during Tuesday evening / night and pushing eastwards into Wednesday. So for many Tuesday could be the best day of the week with light winds and no rain till after dusk.

Early Wednesday morning sees the arrival of that low pressure system, so most of the U.K and Ireland covered by rain, with the heaviest concentration projected to affect Wales this time, but we’ll all get a battering, with heavy rain falling onto already saturated ground. (How many times have you heard that lately?) That rain may clear Ireland by early afternoon leaving showers behind, but it’s in for most of the day over the U.K. Temperatures will be mild in the rain, pushing double figures and the wind will still be south-westerly.

For Thursday, that bulk of the rain front has moved through leaving a cooler, dull day, still with rain around, most likely affecting Donegal, Leinster, the south-west of England and Wales, but everywhere may get a shower as that low passes through, with northern England a possibility later into the night. It’ll be cooler in a more southerly airstream.

Friday is similar to Thursday, with plenty of showers around, though the rain is lighter now, so actual amounts shouldn’t be great, it’s Tuesday night / Wednesday morning that poses the real threat in terms of volume of rain. It’ll remain cool in that moderate southerly wind, temperatures, mid to high single figures.

At this stage, the weekend is looking like we will see a shift in that air stream direction with a more northerly air flow and although it’ll still come in from the west, the source of the air is from the north, instead of the west, so a good bit cooler, dull and unsettled, with rain and wintry showers I think over higher ground. Temperatures will be in middle, single figures. We should be frost free if you have cloud cover, but if it clears, then we may just dip into a ground frost.

Weather Outlook

I think the outlook is still unsettled, however that statement doesn’t tell the whole story because the orientation of the weather systems looks to be changing. It means we’re likely to still get wet, unsettled weather, but the source of these low pressure systems looks to be from the north and not from The Atlantic.

This means 2 things, firstly it’ll be colder, with an increasing chance of wintry showers and the rain orientation is more likely to affect Scotland and the north, more than the south. (sorry) Secondly they’re likely to contain less moisture, be less intense (from a wind perspective) and last less time. In between the low pressure systems, we’ll have colder weather with more frost to boot. Putting some meat on the bones, I think we’ll start next week unsettled, perhaps with wintry showers in the north of England and Scotland.

By mid-week, it’ll pick up a bit milder, but not much, with more rain, wintry showers for Scotland and the north of the country, less so down south. Thereafter I think we’ll finish the week cold, with a northerly airflow in charge, but drier as well.

So unsettled and cold for Harrogate I think, but hopefully not with the same snowfall as last year.

For up to date weather forecasting for Harrogate, click on the image below and it’ll take you straight to the Headland Weathercheck portal for Harrogate, then save it to your desktop or homescreen on your phone 🙂


 Agronomic Notes


Despite the very wet and mild weather we’ve had for the last month, I’m not getting feedback that Fusarium is very aggressive, in fact the opposite. The only reports of new Fusarium have come from drier climes than ours. This tells us something about Fusarium as a pathogen, but before I start making SWAG statements (Scientific Wild-Arsed Guesses as Dr James Beard always used to say :)) I think at this stage I’ll just point it out and maybe suggest that if you do see Fusarium in the coming months, it’ll be on the drier of your greens or the drier part of your greens…..As always let me know please….

Hypoxia – Lack of Oxygen

I think it was about a month ago that I first brought this up, but it’s very likely with all the rainfall of late that we’ll start to see some turf loss through Hypoxia – lack of oxygen. This will affect waterlogged areas and typically perennial Poa, with it’s higher shoot density and shallower rooting. Grasses can stand their roots being immersed under-water for a long while, but there’s a pecking in order in terms of which species are affected first and in my experience it’s Poa annua var. reptans that checks out first. (It’s the same scenario with ice cover on greens).

If it’s mild and wet during the winter it can be the worst-case scenario because warmer water contains less oxygen and in addition, the temperature will encourage plant growth, which will deplete the oxygen level in the soil. Normally this is replaced immediately (in a well-aerated rootzone), but in a saturated rootzone, the majority of the pore spaces are occupied by water and not a mixture of water and air, so the oxygen-holding capacity is lower and hypoxia can become an issue.

The tricky thing is that grass plants do not necessarily show you that they’re under Hypoxic stress until they’re well on their way to checking out (yellowing of leaves) so you can often mis-read this problem. There’s little you can do about it at the moment, most people can’t get machines out on the golf course to aerate, but I’d suggest these conditions of late serve as a test of how good your aeration policy is, why you need to do it and maybe where you need to do it more (or change it entirely?)


Ok I must wrap it up there as Sami is going to be kicking my butt soon for my BTME talk and it isn’t finished yet 🙁

All the best..

Mark Hunt