Hi All,

Firstly may I wish you a Happy New Year and all that baloney 🙂

I see The Express is up to its usual weather tricks with their forecast of……

“January 2017 DEADLY FREEZE: Heavy SNOW to hit in days as UK faces 4-WEEK -15C polar plunge”

Well I’d say it is likely that we will see some colder weather during January and February, bearing in mind the latter is always the coldest month of the year, I mean no something Sherlock but 4 weeks of -15°C, hmmmm !

That said there is a cold air mass over the continent and one sitting above us and the jet stream is still fragmented with large Rossby Waves patterns present as you can see from the Netweather graphic. All this increases the risk of a cold temperature trough forming which will indeed bring very cold weather if it does so, but for now we are sitting under a peak as you can see below…



Over Christmas we saw a peak of mild air pushing up to give us mid-teen temperatures on Christmas Day. I was cycling in my shorts on Christmas Day in a vain bid to head off calorific armageddon…:)


This mild air pushed all the way up to The North Pole to give the warmest Christmas Day ever at that location with temperatures only just freezing would you believe. Since then we’ve had the opposite though with a long spell of cold and largely dry weather for the southern half of the U.K and a much wetter, milder spell for Scotland. We have also had some pretty hard penetrating frosts that have lasted all day in the shade….


So are we in for a Polar Vortex, an Arctic Blast or have the headline writers been sipping on too much of their Christmas booze ?

General Weather Situation

So we start the week off on Tuesday of course (just to remind myself as I found it extremely difficult to get up early this morning) and a pretty grey picture greets us at daybreak with plenty of cloud cover over the U.K and Ireland. The far south of Ireland and England may just see clear skies but for the rest of us it’ll be a dull day with thick cloud, thick enough for some drizzly, mizzle in places I’m sure. There will be some rain around over the north west of Scotland and this will drift south through the course of the morning into south west Scotland and later, north west England. It’ll feel pretty raw out there courtesy of a light to moderate north west wind that picks up intensity during the day so that means cool daytime temperatures maybe tipping mid-single figures in the south of England. Higher for Scotland though as you sit in that milder airstream with possibly double figures on the cards in some areas of Scotland.

Onto Wednesday and a much brighter start to the day for Scotland and the north of the U.K as a shift in the wind to north pushes that cloud mass away, clearing north and easterly areas first. Other than Ireland which looks to keep that thick cloud all day on Wednesday, other areas will have a cold, bright day with long spells of winter sunshine once the cloud cover has moved off. The further south you are, the later in the day this will be. A much colder day for Scotland as you join the rest of the U.K enjoying barely mid-single figure temperatures in that biting northerly wind. Dry again though for most which is a blessing in our industry in January.

So Thursday beckons and again we look to have a largely dry day on the cards for most of the U.K and Ireland starting with a ground frost for many courtesy of those clear skies on Wednesday night. We are set to lose that northerly wind as it’ll shift to a southerly direction through the course of the day and then lessen in intensity as well. It won’t be dry for everyone though as rain is set to move into Kerry mid-morning (ish) on Thursday and this will push inland across Ireland through the course of the day. By Thursday evening that rain will be into the west of Scotland and then push eastwards overnight affecting most of Scotland. Further south we will see a dry day, bright at first and then clouding over from the west as that rain front pushes cloud cover before it. Temperature-wise it will still feel cold despite the absence of that northerly wind with mid-single figures for most, rising to high single figures for Ireland and the west under that cloud cover.

Closing out the week on Friday (I must say I like these shorter weeks 🙂 ), that rain over Ireland has shifted eastwards overnight pushing into Wales, The South West and westerly coasts of England and sits resolutely over Scotland as well. By mid-morning it continues its easterly path clearing Ireland as it does so to leave behind a mass of thick dull cloud, moving into The Midlands and south east of England by late morning. Through the course of the afternoon that rain pushes south and east to give a wet end to the day (and the week) for the south of England. For Scotland and the north, you’ll see that rain clear by dusk but like Ireland it’ll leave behind a very dull picture. Temperature-wise, it’ll feel milder in the west and north so double figure temperatures for Ireland, near that for Scotland but down south and for the rest of England we’ll be lucky to edge 6°C or thereabouts under that thick cloud mass and rainfall. Winds will be moderate and from the south west.

Moving into the weekend and Saturday looks a dull day for most of us with a thick cloud mass covering the U.K and Ireland as the wind swings round from south west to north west . That cloud may be thick enough in places for some drizzle / light rain, especially during the afternoon on Saturday with Ireland, the south west of England and south west / north west of Scotland the most likely to receive some moisture later in the day. Temperature-wise a tad milder over central and southern parts of the U.K with temperatures pushing a degree or two up on Friday so maybe 8 – 9°C tops I’d say. Where you see some sunshine break through in Ireland and Scotland (a few select places I think) you’ll see those temperatures edge into double figures again so not bad really.  Sunday looks a dry day as well except for the west of Scotland where you may see some scuddy rain first thing but this should clear to leave a nice, dry and settled day. The same goes for Ireland and the rest of the U.K, settled and dry with perhaps more in the way of winter sunshine but it’ll remain cool with that north westerly wind firmly in situ, so similar temperatures to Saturday.

Weather Outlook


So let’s be clear, so far we have been dodging a winter bullet with the cold air mass sinking east  in a trough in the jet stream leaving us protected under a high pressure peak and that’s the way we are set to start next week as the Unisys graphic above shows. The question mark is really towards the end of next week when there is a projection that we will begin to be affected by a movement of colder air south. (see below for 13th January)


If this does indeed happen then we will see some snow for sure towards the end of next week and probably over the weekend. (Just in time for Harrogate !)

So for the start of next week we look to have west / north west winds in place and with high pressure we should be settled and dry. By Tuesday those winds swing more round to the north west and increase in intensity and that’ll push more unsettled weather into the north and west and later down south on Tuesday. So from Wednesday onwards next week we will be more unsettled with a cool north westerly wind in place. The question mark as inferred above relates to the end of next week when it looks possible that the winds will turn more northerly (in the north first) and this will push cold and unsettled wintry weather into Scotland and then later the north of England. Time will tell if this projection is correct…

Agronomic Notes


The first thing to say starting off in an optimistic frame of mind is that we are on the way to spring with a clear gap between mid-winter (blue trace) and today (yellow trace) in terms of the position of the sun in the sky according to Sunseeker. So whatever you may be experiencing today, in just 8 weeks it’ll be March 🙂


As it’s the first post of January 2017 we can look at our completed GDD stats for 2016 courtesy of Wendy’s charts 🙂


So December checked out pretty cool as predicted with only 27% of the GDD in December 2016 compared to December 2015.  But appearances are deceptive because we also experienced high disease pressure in December 2016 despite the coolness of the month with periods at the beginning and mid-month of high humidity and high night time temperatures. So what we can learn is that monthly totals weather-wise don’t tell the whole story.

It’s a bit like reading that for a certain month you only had 40mm of rain but if it occurred on two consecutive days it would be anything but a dry month in your mind !

Looking at December in detail from a rainfall and Growth Potential perspective we can clearly see the peaks that gave us heightened disease pressure during December 2016…Here’s December 2016’s stats from various locations with high disease pressure periods highlighted in red…


You can see from the two U.K locations that the main disease pressure occurred between 6th – 10th of December and also the 13th – 16th December with the south west location showing an extended period of activity.

Looking at three Irish locations we see a similar but not identical pattern ;


The Cork and Central Dublin locations started off December with an absolutely balmy (barmy) day on the 2nd with air temperatures in the day of 16.8°C and 21.4°C respectively and night temperatures of 13.2°C !

You can also see how important location is because the Coastal Dublin location missed out on the balmy early December weather probably because of coastal cloud cover.

Together with the early December warmth, we can see two similar peaks to the U.K locations for the Irish locations and so despite low GDD totals for the month it was a high disease pressure month for us all, U.K and Ireland alike.

Little wonder I received so many reports of very aggressive Microdochium nivale activity during December !

GDD totals for the year…


We hear alot about 2016 being the warmest year on record but for the U.K / Ireland I think the jet stream has the biggest effect on our yearly climate. So 2016 wasn’t the warmest year from a GDD perspective coming in well behind 2011 and 2014 but ahead of 2015.

If you look at the Irish data you can see that 2016 was a much better year for all locations but significantly better across the more westerly locations where GDD totals were so low in 2015.


So all in all not a bad year and I think a much better end to the year rainfall-wise compared to 2015, though I know some of the Scottish locations had an extremely wet run up to Christmas.

What’s to do ?

Well If you’re site location is dry and workable then why not slip in that early season hollow core this week to remove some extra surface organic matter ?


Now I 100% appreciate it may not be for you, your site may be too wet or too frozen but for sure there’s a dry window for some this week which would allow them to hollow core and collect without issues with core ejection and harvesting. (or hopefully too much moaning about holes in the greens from membership / players alike)

I think areas would also benefit from a brush to flick out some of that dead grass in the base of the canopy and stand up grass prior to a cut maybe ?

If the weather does close in later next week this may be the only window in January to do this kind of work so my advice would be “Carpe Diem Quam Minimum Credula Postero” which I am reliably informed translates to “Seize the day and put very little trust into tomorrow….”

You’ve probably got till Friday’s rain arrives to do this or other forms of aeration which will benefit you going forward.

Not really much to say about nutrition because at present there’s very little growth going on so I’d expect you to still be getting good results from your pre-Christmas winter tonics if you did indeed apply them….Disease activity as well I’d expect to be at a minimum because of the low temperatures and night frosts so hopefully no mycelium pictures to send me this week 🙁

Onwards and upwards as they say…

All the best

Mark Hunt