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