First off, an apology…
An apology for such an inaccurate rain forecast last Wednesday 🙁
My blog (and the two main weather sites I use) both predicted rain pushing down from the north west of England, it wasn’t expected to amount of much. The reality is that the wind direction changed and very heavy rain pushed up from the continent into the bottom of the trough pattern and then circulated through Wednesday morning, depositing huge amounts of rainfall. You can see the areas worst affected on this radar shot from Netweather.
I measured 40mm here but others were closer to 60mm of rain falling in two bouts. I’ve never seen flooding like it with huge areas of local farmland underwater. In Market Harborough, there’s a car park close to the main railway station and last year it flooded, this year it was even worse and 20 cars were completely submerged. (Note the safety feature where the windows come down if the car is submerged, useful for achieving a consistent flooding height inside and out !)
I decided to try and attempt my normal Wednesday late afternoon cycle and as you can see it wasn’t to be because the flood waters eventually reached waist high so time to abort 🙁
So a lesson to me and I guess many others (weather companies) who failed to forecast this type of event. Most sites picked it up 6-8 hours before it occurred but underestimated the amount of rain by a significant margin.
Onto the forecast for this week and let’s hope we can do better eh ?
General Weather Situation
As projected last week, this week we were due to have high pressure in charge and that is the case but it’s tilted on it’s side so some of us will pick up a cooler airflow than originally forecast.
Monday looks a lovely settled day with less in the way of mist and fog first thing (a blessing there both for visibility and temperature) and this will allow the sun to push through earlier in places. If you have the fog / mist, it’ll be the usual mid-morning till you start to see an improvement. There’s no rain anywhere forecast today. The warmest part of the high pressure sitting over us is across the north of England and Scotland so here you’ll see some lovely warm temperatures, up to 14-15°C, buoyed by a nice southerly wind. Further south it’ll be cooler with a light to moderate south east wind so low double figures elsewhere. The night temperature should hold about 4-5°C, so a low risk of frost.
Tuesday sees another dry picture but this time we will see more cloud cover pushing in off The North Sea overnight, so a duller day is on the cards. The north west of England, south west of Scotland and across central Ireland should see some gaps in the sunshine during the morning, but elsewhere it may stay dull all day I’m afraid. Again the warmer temperatures are for the north with low double figures the order of the day, whereas further south and west, that moderate south east wind will peg them back to high single figures, maybe just breaking 10°C in sheltered areas. Later in the afternoon we may see some breaks in the cloud across The Midlands and North Wales. Again I’d expect temperatures to hold above freezing at night.
Moving onto Wednesday and we have another dry day on the cards, but continuing the pattern of starting off dull pretty much everywhere as more cloud has spilled in overnight from The North Sea on that easterly wind. This cloud cover looks less stubborn to clear on Wednesday so a brighter day for many areas from mid-morning and plenty of sunshine. The exception may be along the east coast where the cloud cover could persist through to the afternoon. Temperature-wise it looks to be high single, low double figures, again warmer for Scotland than for the south of the U.K. Winds will be light to moderate, easterly for most areas but as they’ll be lighter it may just give temperatures a chance to riser higher than forecast.
For Thursday we continue that dry picture with very much a carbon copy of Wednesday. Overnight cloud cover keeps temperatures up above freezing and by mid-morning the cloud cover breaks to give long periods of unbroken sunshine across the U.K and Ireland. The latter could therefore enjoy a very pleasant St Patrick’s Day 🙂 Temperature-wise, similar to Wednesday with light easterly winds allowing high single / low double figures to be the order of the day and 2-3°C higher in Scotland possibly.
As we progress through the week the night temperatures drop away and this increases the chance of a ground frost on Friday morning. So closing out what has been a pleasant week on the whole, Friday sees the pattern continue with early cloud cover burning off to give a lovely sunny end to the week. The exception to this may be north east coasts and particularly north east Scotland, where the cloud may persist all day and be thick enough for some mizzle. It may be as well that eastern areas pick up a more northerly air stream so this will peg temperatures back a degree or two compared to Thursday.
Unfortunately the outlook for the weekend isn’t as good, not from a dryness perspective, but because there’s likely to be thicker, more persistent cloud spilling over from The North Sea so that means duller and cooler for Saturday and Sunday, especially for Scotland which has enjoyed the better temperatures. The wind direction will also be more northerly and that’ll keep the damper on things I’m afraid temperature-wise. Over to the west of the U.K and Ireland, you should have a much better chance of seeing the sun and therefore a nice day on the cards for you. Now cloud cover is a fickle beast so let’s hope this is wrong and we continue the pleasant outlook through the weekend 🙂 Temperature-wise, more of the same really, high single figures, maybe a little lower due to the northerly wind aspect, but dry for all areas.
So does the dry outlook extend into next week ?
In a word ‘yes’ it appears to with the high pressure system sitting out in The Atlantic and preventing low pressure systems from pushing in. So next week looks to start in a similar fashion to how this week finished with a northerly wind aspect, dry and in places bright and sunny. We won’t however be seeing anything to shout about temperature-wise and so the prognosis of low temperatures and northerly winds looks set to continue. Towards the end of next week a low pushes down from the north and this may introduce more unsettled weather to eastern areas along with a much stronger northerly wind. That could mean a chilly Good Friday for some 🙁
Cool and Dry, Good for Roots, Poor for Shoots
With some pretty good day air temperatures since last Friday and looking to continue this week, especially for the north and Scotland, we will pretty soon be in a situation where we’re drying out thankfully.
Now whilst the combination of warm day temperatures and cool nights isn’t great for top growth, a drying soil profile and a lack of top growth means the plant can focus its efforts on developing roots. So if ground conditions allow (and I know after last Wednesday’s rain, it’s a big ‘if’) this week would be a good tine to do some non-intrusive aeration, compact vertidraining, solid or star tining will all produce benefits in my mind. Hollow coring of tees and other areas where organic matter may have accumulated over the winter will also be beneficial, even if you won’t immediately see recovery. When the air temperature warms but the soil temperature stays cool it’s often the case that the grass plant cannot develop significant shoot growth and so it does not partition energy towards the top of the plant. This means it can divert those reserves for use in developing roots provided the plant has sufficient oxygen available in the rootzone and that’s where the aeration comes in.
What if I need some top growth for recovery ?
All is not entirely lost especially if you’re in an area that’s likely to see more of the sun this week. During the warm part of the day I do believe you can initiate a response by applying light amounts of foliar nitrogen which is immediately available. This means ammonium and nitrate forms of N of course but also amino acid (which contains it’s own nitrogen). Many biostimulants are formulated with amino acid so applying a small amount of nitrogen (4-6kg / N/ hectare) in combination with an amino-acid based biostimulant can give you a small amount of top growth. Since the outlook is to remain dry through this week and well into next week, it is worth making a couple of applications a week apart if the need is to try and initiate some recovery. The higher the height of cut, the more likely you are to gain from this type of practice so tees, fairways, sports fields and the like will all show benefits. If you just want colour, tank mixing in a little iron at the same point in time will tick this box as well.
Winter wear areas…
There are a lot of areas showing wear from the winter and none more so on golf courses where you have that familiar ‘rat run’ from green to the next tee. I think with drying ground conditions it’s worth working those areas, hollow coring, overseeding, topdressing and fertilising. I prefer hollow coring when it comes to seed establishment, particularly early on in the season because you’re dropping the seed into a core hole full of good quality rootzone sand (hopefully :))
The seedling has no impediment to develop a root system (no surface organic matter layer to try and develop roots through) and it also sits under the height of cut a little as well because it’s in the core hole.
You can argue that with the cool temperatures nothing much will happen until they pick up but if it is all in situ, then the jobs done and all we need is Mother Nature to comply and the job’s a good un…
Where we are this year…(continued)
Continuing the theme from last week I have updated the GDD stats comparing us with last year. I think I said back in February that it wouldn’t surprise me after experiencing a winter with autumn-like temperatures, that we then experience a spring with winter-like ones and this appears to be true with a pretty cool March to date.
As you can see from the chart above we are very rapidly approaching the point where we draw level and potentially fall behind last year. All the gains made during the mild weather in late January and early February 2016 will have soon been negated by this years cold March which has demonstrated pretty much no growth in terms of GDD this year.
Ok that’s it for this week, a bit of a short one I know…
All the best.