Jan 28th

Hi All,

After the first snow of winter last week for many we face another wintry week on the cards with an increasing chance of more snow as we progress through the week with Tuesday and Thursday looking particularly likely for more of the white stuff. Thanks to Sean for this cracking picture and I bet people were still ringing up to see if the course was open 🙂

Whilst many of the tabloids are heralding this as a start of the ‘Beast from the East’, the science does not support this currently with great inconsistency between the different long-term (10 – 14 day) forecasts. Looking at the weekend just gone we had that Atlantic high pressure nudge in again and bring mild air up from The Mediterranean pushing temperatures up into double figures before dropping back again. Time will of course be the best judge but my feeling at present is that we haven’t seen an onset of the same dominant weather pattern we saw after the Sudden Stratospheric Warming event in January 2018.

General Weather Situation

Now I’ll start the my commentary on the general weather situation with a caveat and it’s one that relates to snowfall, how much and where. Of all the weather parameters, I think snowfall is the most difficult to predict and my advice is always to look on the weather radar to see where it is occurring and just as importantly, where it is heading on the day. So without further ado, onto Monday’s weather and looking out of my office windows I see a lovely dawn approaching with clear blue skies and a slight frost.

So for most of the U.K we start Monday bright, clear and frosty with a widespread frost but already there’s a heightened risk of snow along north-eastern and eastern coasts. For Ireland there’s more cloud cover courtesy of a weak rain front moving from west to east. This will likely turn to sleet and snow across elevation through the morning. A settled day aside from this across the U.K with long spells of winter sunshine and just a risk of an isolated snow shower along eastern coasts. For Ireland the rain front continues to push eastwards clearing the west by lunchtime and leaving just a threat of wintry showers across the mountains of Wicklow / Leinster by dusk. A cold, fresh, north-west wind in situ will keep temperatures pegged down in the 4-6°C range with a pronounced windchill.

Overnight we see that weak front push wintry showers into north-west Scotland and Wales and these will consolidate across central northern England stretching from the Pennines up to northern Scotland. By dawn on Tuesday we will see another band of rain, sleet and snow across Ireland and these will push rapidly across the Irish Sea into Wales and the north-west of England, Wales and Scotland by mid-morning. Now there is plenty of conjecture whether this moisture will turn up as rain, sleet or snow but I think it’s looking more like rain, sleet on the whole except over elevation of course. By lunchtime Tuesday the showers have crossed east into north-east England / Scotland, but also across Wales and The South West, more likely falling as rain across the latter. As we close out Tuesday that band of moisture has a south-easterly tilt and here I think it may increasingly turn to snow as temperatures drop on Tuesday evening.  The northerly end of this moisture may cover The Midlands and East Anglia as well, so a threat of rain turning to snow on Tuesday evening here. Like I said at the start of this blog, your best option is to watch it on the radar and track its path and intensity if you are concerned. Similar temperatures to Monday initially with a westerly wind which spins round north-westerly as we approach dusk and it is this that will drop the temperature and increase the risk of snow.

Into Wednesday and with clearing skies across the U.K and Ireland we will see a pretty hard frost I think, so some tricky driving conditions first thing Wednesday after that overnight moisture. Almost a re-run of Tuesday with wintry showers crossing Ireland and already into The South West,  Wales and The Lakes as the sun comes up. Further east it’ll be a calm start to the day and they’ll less in the way of moisture around mid-week. The north-west of Scotland will see a mix of rain, sleet and snow move in during the morning and this will push south into south-west Scotland by lunchtime. Ireland will clear through the morning with the main front of wintry showers confined to Cork and Wexford I think before moving off into The Irish Sea by lunchtime. This band of wintry showers will then push into West Wales and The South West during the afternoon, but it will be on a southerly trajectory so shouldn’t push too far inland. Many areas will see plenty of winter sun on Wednesday but that moisture over Scotland will continue to push south across The Borders and into The North East by dusk leading to some wintry showers overnight for northern England. 2-4°C on Wednesday with a fresh westerly wind providing significant windchill.

Onto Thursday, my aren’t we getting a clip on (aided by a cup of Kenco Costa Rican instant mind) and after a reasonably quiet mid-week, we have another low pressure in bound and this one promises to probably bring the most snow with it. So by dawn on Thursday morning this low is already across Ireland bringing a mix of rain, sleet and snow and strong winds so a wet day for Ireland on Thursday. Further east we have a settled and dry start to the day with another hard penetrating frost across England, Wales and Scotland. By lunchtime that weather picture will be changing though as that moisture pushes into The South West and South Wales and rapidly pushes eastwards covering the whole of the southern half of the country by the evening rush hour. Now the question is and will be as we move closer to Thursday, where exactly is in the firing line ?

Image courtesy of Meteoblue https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/map/precipitation/united-kingdom

Image courtesy of WXCHARTS https://www.wxcharts.com

If I pick 2 weather models, WxCharts and Meteoblue, you can see there’s disagreement between the exact path of that low pressure system with the former showing a more northerly aspect and the latter, more southerly. What that tells me is that currently we aren’t certain. They also both show a mixture of rain, sleet and snow so there’s another variable. My guess is we will see rain first turning more to snow as we progress through the evening.

As that low moves in we will see the wind change from westerly to easterly through the course of the day and that’ll have another bearing on temperatures and snowfall in my books. Whatever it’ll be a bitter day with temperatures not much above freezing and a negative windchill. Wrap up well.

So finishing off the week on Friday, that mix of rain, sleet and snow is still with us overnight into Friday so by dawn we may see quite some accumulation across the southern half of the U.K extending up into northern England. Ireland looks to finish the week with a penetrating frost and clear, crisp and sunny. So Friday sees a west-east and north-south divide with Ireland and Scotland looking to have a clear, cold and dry day and England and Wales set for some wintry showers and wintry sunshine. That said I think they are more likely to persist across eastern coasts and down into The South East, possibly turning to rain later before turning back to snow on Friday evening across the far south east. Lot’s of uncertainty here both in location and type of moisture. So another very cold day with a strong wind and pronounced windchill.

Key will be the path of the low in determining whether the rain, sleet and snow will have a southerly or northerly influence.


So onto the weekend and would you believe the start of the fly fishing season at Thornton reservoir near Leicester !!

I think the picture below will be accurate for the snow, but they’ll be a lot less water in the reservoir courtesy of the dry summer and autumn / winter and maybe the Trout won’t oblige ? 🙂 (And yes I couldn’t feel my fingers !)

So how does the weekend look ?

Well Saturday looks windy from the north-west and dry for most of the U.K and Ireland. I say most because there’s still a risk that low will push wintry showers into Scotland overnight into Saturday and that these may still be present by dawn. Eastern coasts will also share an increased risk of snow showers through the day, but for most it will be bright, dry and bitingly cold with temperatures not getting much above 3-4°C during the day because of the strong north-westerly wind. Sunday looks similar but with an increased risk of rain across the south and west of Ireland and this threatens to push across The Irish Sea into Wales, The South West and later England by close of play Sunday. Maybe just maybe feeling slightly milder on Sunday as that low pulls in milder air from The Atlantic. So possibly 5-7°C despite the continued presence of a very strong, north-westerly wind.

Weather Outlook

So last week Unisys Weather stopped producing their GFS 10-day output that I have relied upon for years to interpret. It may be back some time in the future but as usual with big American corporations they don’t tell you anything other than what’s written on the website, which isn’t a lot. So I’m going to move on to WXCHARTS for my output and it will be their GIF appearing at the top of the blog, thanks to them for their courtesy in letting me use their output. Thanks also to Metman James for his continued output on Twitter, it really helps to try and pull the threads together for what I think is an uncertain picture.

The above is a schematic of the various weather models and the output relates to pressure so when you see a dip below the dotted line it is indicating low pressure, unsettled conditions and above it a move to high pressure, more settled conditions, usually dry, cold, frosty for this time of year.  So you can see the models tend to point towards more settled conditions from the weekend going into next week and that’s good because so does the output of WXCHARTS. Their output below suggests high pressure is set to form over the U.K from the beginning of next week and hold station for pretty much the whole week.

So next week looks to start off reasonably dry and settled across Ireland and the west but we will still have that low pressure sitting over the south-east of England so expect unsettled conditions for the east and south-east on Monday as that low gradually drifts off into the continent. High pressure then takes over with dry, settled conditions and if skies clear, a frost for Monday night.  Late on Tuesday, a rain front pushes into Ireland and this heads west to affect the north and western half of the U.K through Wednesday falling as snow again at elevation I think. The winds will be northerly in nature as they are for the leading edge of a high pressure system so it’ll remain very cold. On Thursday the winds will change to easterly and that’ll prevent the front from progressing too much further east but it will also mean a greater risk of snow on the leading edge of that front. So I think a mainly dry end to next week with a predominantly easterly airflow keeping temperatures down.

So this is my first go at interpreting different output and we will see how accurate it is, to me it’s like learning a new language after all those years with Unisys.

Agronomic Notes


Thanks to everyone who dropped by our stand at BTME 2019 last week and to those who attended my talk on the Tuesday. Thanks Sami for sorting arrangements !

As usual I was pretty nervous and my heart rate jumped from 45 to 90 just before I started my stint !

Yes, it was a different layout, sometimes to me it felt a little like trying to get out of IKEA, but I think we have to try something different for our industry and BIGGA should be applauded for that.

Lastly, I can only apologise for anyone within earshot of a certain Adi Masters on Tuesday night. Many of you will know that Adi likes a sing-song and so it was in the restaurant and hotel bar to the wee hours. Unfortunately his repartee seemed to be limited to Bohemian Rhapsody and American Pie, but he knows every verse 🙁

Disease pressure and tricky conditions underfoot

The image above (aah Unisys I miss you) was included in my BTME presentation and showed the source of the warm air and humidity that made life so tricky from a disease perspective between Christmas and The New Year.

Well exactly the same thing happened at the end of last week with high pressure again pulling in mild, humid air into the U.K and Ireland.

Here’s the schematic at midday on Friday last week and you can see the same phenomenon….

So we saw a rapid rise in air temperature above hard, frozen ground (some with snow cover) at the start of the day from freezing to mild, balmy (barmy) and humid by the afternoon.

That gave us some really tricky conditions from a playability perspective with a thawing surface layer on top of a frozen base. Always difficult to manage from a player and health & safety perspective.

The graph below from my Netatmo Weather Station highlights the rapid transition perfectly ;

It is no surprise then that this rapid increase in temperature caused increased activity of Microdochium nivale.

Recently I conducted some research work looking at the growth of Microdochium nivale mycelium in response to air temperature and it is particularly relevant to this type of scenario.

At an air temperature of 11°C, Microdochium nivale is growing at around 75% of the rate it is growing at 15°C, so it is easy to see why this sort of weather dynamic led to increased disease activity on many sites, particularly those where existing scarring was already present. Thankfully the disease peak was short-lived because by Saturday lunchtime the wind strengthened and the humidity and temperature began to drop to a point where on Sunday morning we were just 1.5°C. So another disease peak, this time in late January, boy it is one long disease season 🙁

Thankfully the outlook for the foreseeable is for low disease pressure and although the projection is for high pressure to establish next week, it will be pulling in northerly and easterly air so by no means warm and humid as we have experienced recently.

Dry January ?

After last week at BTME I’m not referring to your likely alcohol consumption for the rest of this month though it might well be apt, I am talking about the lack of rain.

Now I know the rainfall has been westerly / south-westerly / northerly biased, but it’s a fact that The Midlands and areas further south and east are experiencing a dry winter. January may indeed go down as the driest for a number of years with only 13.5mm measured in my rain gauge so far this month and 19mm for Birmingham (thanks Jon).

Looking at some weather station output across the south and east, I found the following rainfall totals ;

Milton Keynes   19mm   / Camberley   30.5mm   / Reigate  17.8mm  / Sevenoaks  15mm  / Braintree 16mm  / Norwich 41mm

Now I know plenty of you have had more rain than this and in itself this type of weather is great for cracking on with winter project work and for playability on the golf course but the lack of water continues to worry me.

If we run into February with a high pressure blocking pattern that will mean a drier than usual month and if (hopefully) by March temperatures are on the rise, we will be back into positive E.T. Now yes there are lots of presumptions there but I harbour a concern that reservoirs are 30-40% down on where they normally would be for this time of year and we will go into this spring / summer on the back foot from a water reserves perspective in some areas of the country.

Dove-tail that in with the U.K governments fixation on building new houses everywhere (whilst not bothering to invest in infrastructure mind) and the increased requirement for water from domestic homeowners and you have a recipe for water restrictions.

I can remember the last time this happened and the golf industry for one wasn’t particularly well treated from my recollection.

Remember also we went into the autumn / winter with the most significant dry-down of rootzones on outfield for 40 years, so there’s plenty of very dry soil out there once you scratch below the surface. Plenty of these areas still need to recover before the summer so let us hope we have good amounts of rain before the drying cycle begins again.

Ok that’s it for this week, if all goes to plan we should be set on a 1p.m. publishing time for the blog provided nothing goes wrong from an I.T perspective and of course I get it finished before then !!!

All the best for the coming week, wrap up well, watch your rain (snow) radar to keep abreast of the likely track of the weather on Tuesday and Thursday p.m. in particular and above all, stay safe. I use Netweather for this purpose but there’s plenty of other good radar weather sites out there. You can find the basic service here.

Mark Hunt