26th November

Hi All,

This is already the last blog of November as we speed towards the Winter Solstice and that dose of mayhem that is Christmas 🙂

So far this winter we have got off lightly I think but then again that’s often the pattern nowadays, mild till Christmas and then we start winter sometime in January.

I follow (ed) some weather outlets on Twitter and 7-10 days ago some of them were pointing to an emerging Beast from the East, blardy blah this week based on output at the extremes of forecasting. This obviously made its way into the tabloids because I got asked the other day if we should be preparing for 2 weeks of snow ?

Yet again this type of media- slanted sensationalist meteorology shows that it has no place in the real world and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The reality is that we need to turn our head 180° and look to the west to see where the weather is coming from over the next 7-10 days because wet, windy and westerlies it certainly will be…

My Hedgehogs don’t like wet weather and that’s maybe why mum and dad went into hibernation last week, either that or they just couldn’t stand another month of extended Black Friday, Cyber Monday or crap Christmas adverts on telly way before the actual event 🙂 (Can you tell I’m not a fan of Christmas?)

Their young though are active and feeding and last night I had a record of 5 in the garden at one point. Lovely to see. Interestingly it is the same week of November every year that the adults hibernate, I wonder what the trigger mechanism is, maybe day length ? (it definitely isn’t GDD!)

As hinted above we have some pretty unsettled weather heading our way, so let’s put some detail on it…

General Weather Situation

After a pretty wet weekend for The South West, South Wales and south coast of England, there’s a band of showers already pushing into the south-east of England, East Anglia and eastern coastline of the U.K, extending right up to The Black Isle, north of Inverness. These showers are pushing westwards and so today for many will be a sunshine and showers day with the west of the country drier till later. Since the weather is coming from the east, expect eastern coasts to see more showers on Monday and for it to be duller there as well. There’s some space between the showers so some locations may miss them entirely. We can also expect some showers along the south-east coast of Munster and Leinster this morning but Ireland will on the whole be dry. The showers will be pushed along by a moderate north-east – easterly wind so as expected it’ll be a cool one with temperatures between 6-8°C.

Overnight into Tuesday and some of those showers across Scotland will become wintry in nature over The Highlands. For Ireland we see the first sign of a changing weather picture as a front of heavy rain pushes into Kerry late on Monday (I can see it on the radar now actually)  and moves north and east overnight into Tuesday, on a strong southerly / south-westerly wind. This rain looks potentially very heavy so may cause flooding in the south-west of Ireland. By dawn that rain is also into The South West and by mid-morning, South Wales and during the day that band of heavy rain will push north and east across the south of England and into The Midlands and north of England by late afternoon. Where it butts up against the cold continental air it could fall as snow over higher elevations in The Lakes and Pennines. By the evening it’ll have cleared the west of the U.K and lie in a band up central and eastern areas stretching up from Kent to Inverness. So Tuesday promises to be a wet day for many depending on where you are located. The further north and east you are, the later the rain, the better the day promises to be. As that rain pushes across the U.K and Ireland, it’ll switch the wind direction round from easterly to south-westerly. Temperature-wise, milder in the west with that earlier wind change so 9-11°C for Ireland, but further north and east you are looking more like 6-8°C.

Wednesday sees that band of rain push out into The North Sea overnight but it has already been replaced by a new band that came into Ireland overnight. So by dawn we see this extending over all of Ireland and affecting The South West, Wales and the western coastline of the U.K. Through the morning it’ll push slowly east with some heavy totals for Kerry (sorry lads), North Wales, The Lakes and Scotland. So from dawn to dusk, a wet one for most areas with only the south-east and East Anglia staying dry for the first half of the day. Not only will it be wet on Wednesday it’ll also be very windy with a strong to gale force south-westerly wind associated with that rainfall. It will however feel a good bit milder with temperatures up in double figures ranging from 11-13°C across the U.K and Ireland.

Overnight into Thursday and that rain has cleared all but north Scotland by midnight, however (sounding like a stuck record) a new rain front is projected to push up The Bristol Channel into The South West of England and South Wales by early morning and by dawn this will already be affecting all of England and Wales. Ireland may just get a glancing blow from this rain across the south-east coast. The rain is projected to be heaviest across South Wales and the south coast of England. With a strong wind associated with that rain it won’t be hanging around and so by mid-morning it’ll have cleared the west and be affecting central and eastern parts of the U.K and Scotland south of The Highlands. So for the 2nd half of the day the sun should come out across Ireland and the west and that’ll give a nice bit of drying, mild wind for you. For Scotland it is role- reversal with that rain falling heavily across central and eastern regions during the afternoon and some of that rain again wintry over higher ground. Mild again but maybe feeling a little cooler than Wednesday with 9-12°C the range over the U.K and Ireland. It will again be extremely windy with strong to gale force winds.

Closing out a pretty active weather week on Friday and a north-south divide will be in place by dawn with Scotland and the north of England looking to have plenty of showers around. South and west of this expect a much drier day than earlier in the week, still with some showers affecting westerly coasts but for many in the south and west, it’ll be a drier day with some sunshine, a welcome respite particularly for Ireland, Wales and The South West. Those showers may linger over northern England and for Scotland form into a more consolidated rain front for the north and west later in the afternoon. Still really windy from the west for all areas with strong to gale force winds much in evidence. Remaining cooler as well so similar temperatures to Thursday, with 9-12°C.

So how are we looking for the weekend, well pretty wet I’d say, especially on Saturday for Ireland and most of the U.K up to central Scotland with a new rain front pushing in from the west. This will clear Ireland from the west later on Saturday but it looks like plenty of showers around for Ireland on Sunday as well. More rain overnight for the U.K but it may be drier and sunnier on Sunday for England with much milder temperatures pushing up to 13°C across the south of England in a more southerly air stream. Wetter the further north and west you go I think on Sunday, particularly in the morning but maybe a bright interlude for the 2nd half of the day before more rain pushes in. Winds will be strong to gale force on Saturday dropping to strong to moderate from the south on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

So next week looks like starting off pretty much as this coming weekend will finish, wet and windy for Monday breaking down into showers for Tuesday and then possibly high pressure building in The Azores to bring some cooler, drier way into the picture from mid-week, next week. This will push any Atlantic rain over the north and west of the country and towards the end of next week it looks wet and windy across northern and western parts. It will also turn the winds north-westerly / northerly so cooler air as well as we approach the end of next week. With lighter winds I’d expect a return to fog and frost as well.

Agronomic Notes

Flare up of Microdochium nivale around existing scar this weekend. Note annual Poa biotype producing seedheads in photo.

Disease pressure

So last week I said that disease pressure was due to drop away with the advent of cool easterlies and that’s the way it panned out except for I think over the weekend when we picked up some really heavy dew and very little wind to dry the leaf out so we had a long period of extended wetness…

As you can see from the readout above and below taken from my Netatmo weather station, the air temperature and the dew point were practically identical going through Friday night and Saturday morning and this means humidity levels were high.

In fact if we look at the last 4 days you can see how quickly the temperature rose on Thursday morning after our coldest night of the year so far and how over the following 4 days, the dew point and air temperature were practically indistinguishable. So we ran high humidity and a wet plant leaf for a long period of time. The air temperature was on the cool side though and that stopped Microdochium from being really aggressive, instead we saw activity around the circumference of existing scars where the disease population is at its highest. (image top)

Unisys projection for Thursday 6th December

Looking ahead…

Now it is a tricky one to call because we are going milder with the south westerly air stream but typically I find that in periods of wet and very windy weather we don’t tend to see aggressive Microdochium outbreaks even though the air is damp and the mild overnight temperature should cause high levels of activity. I wonder if this is due to the fact that high wind speed inhibits the formation of mycelium or the mechanism / speed / rate of growth across a grass plant leaf ? Pure supposition on my part but maybe the effect of the wind and repeated wet / drying patterns aren’t conducive to rapid mycelium development ? Our model shows the highest activity will be on the 2nd of December as it stands now. (but it is still rated as low to medium activity)

Bearing in mind that for the last two December’s we have had some very aggressive Microdochium activity I am on the look out for a similar pattern of weather and scanning the data regularly for a repeat of that weather pattern. So far I can’t see it but if an Azores high pressure establishes later next week, that might be such a weather event. A lot will depend on how warm the air associated with the high pressure is and of course whether it comes into play at all.

Recovery window

With a milder air stream comes growth potential and sure enough looking at the Meteoturf output above for the coming week you can see we are likely to pick up some pretty good growth (especially on Sunday and Monday. So all of you that are hoping to see some more recovery on drought-damaged areas should be pleased, especially with the combination of rainfall and milder air.

I mention this because we know that warm rain will push the soil temperature up faster than warm air and though currently here it is sitting around 8.5°C, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw it > 10°C by the end of the weekend. That will promote a nice bit of handy growth in areas that are thin or indeed scarred areas of fine turf from the mid-October peak of Microdochium activity.

Now I know other parts of the country have had plenty of rain but here locally on some soil types it is still very difficult to get a vertidrain down further than 100mm (4″). I’m hoping this week’s upcoming wet spell will push moisture down further and enable compacted areas to take a vertidrain when surfaces firm up again.

Certainly the benefits of deep aeration (undertaken in the appropriate conditions) whether it be by vertidrain or AIR-2G2 were plain to see in the drier periods of this year. For those who missed it earlier in the year, here’s a couple of pics showing non-vertidrained areas under drought stress this summer. (Thanks again to Mark Todd for these pics)

Now this week’s blog will definitely be published late and it’ll be my fault as I had to be elsewhere this morning. The same will be true next week where I might only get a mini-blog out next Monday.

In the meantime, all the best and hang onto your hat this week 🙂

Mark Hunt