Dec 21st – Mini blog

Hi All,

As promised I’ve made time to compile a quick look see at the weather over the Christmas to New Year period paying particular attention to spray windows this week (as it applies to my work  as well as yours :)) and of course any potential repeat of the return of high pressure and err….high pressure (disease-wise!)

Today marks the Winter Solstice and the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky if you get a chance to see it. So we have the shortest hours of daylight and an astronomical event to mark the turning point in the night – day balance.

Before I move on to the weather, I’d just like to thank my work colleagues, my customers both here and abroad in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Holland, contributors to this blog in terms of sending weather stats and of course you guys for making this year a bit more palatable. It is has been and remains one crazy, mixed up year and hopefully one we can look back on at some point, reflect and above all learn from. The sight of St Pancras station packed to the rafters yesterday with people escaping London and no doubt taking the new Covid-19 virus variant with them to other parts of the country just had my head shaking. What are they doing, what are they thinking of (themselves and not others), what are we doing as country and how is that behaviour in a society in any way tolerable ?

This virus continues to bring out the best and worst of human behaviour. Dove-tail that in with Brexit and Christmas and you mind is pretty much spinning after you’ve watched the News at Ten. Thank God then for the little things in life that make it more tolerable. For me, a decent cup of coffee, some good people to talk things through with, the ability to walk, to exercise and process that information and of course fishing. We all have different ways of trying to be happy in our own skin and thankfully despite all of the above, most of them are still there for us. So whatever way you can, I hope you have the chance of relaxing this Christmas and spending some quality time with who you’re allowed to, when you are allowed to do it 🙂

General Weather Situation

So this week is definitely a week of two halves – the first part of the week will see us carry over some really mild air temperature, some wind and plenty of rain I’m afraid, particularly for the southern half of the U.K. Thereafter we pick up a northerly airstream which will get colder as we go through from Christmas to The New Year but sadly maybe not quick enough for my White Christmas Paddy Power bets, damn and blast. From the 27th onwards we look to go very cold and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some snow showers further south through this period. This cold temperature trough looks to extend well into The New Year so we will have a pretty cold Christmas – New Year and possibly beyond.

For now though as you can see from the GFS output above, we have a southerly airstream in place bearing south westerly and that is ushering up warm and humid air from Spain and Portugal, just like it did last year and the years before that. So Monday looks to be a wet one (it certainly is if I look out of my window!) for the southern half of the U.K, the west of Scotland and most of Ireland save the far south. This rain will clear the southern half of the U.K and Ireland through the morning but in turn that will pull rain into the north of England and Scotland for the second half of Monday. Scotland may see some of that rain fall as wintry showers as they pick up the beginnings of those decreasing temperatures. Speaking of temperatures, there’s a big difference north to south with Scotland sitting in 8-9°C and southern England hitting 15°C ! Thankfully it’ll also be reasonably windy today with a strengthening south westerly wind.

Into Tuesday and that rain has largely cleared all of the U.K & Ireland with just a vestige around the east of England and Cork. Some showers are likely through Tuesday morning across the west of Scotland and also Central England. These will build across the latter as we go through the day affecting the south coast and into central areas but north of this shower belt should be a nice dry day with light winds and pleasant temperatures though a good way down on the highs of Monday. The east of Scotland and England may even pick up some sunshine 🙂

Onto Wednesday and the run up to Christmas and this one looks a wet one for some ! So overnight we see rain push in across The South West and into central areas and this will meet the colder air from the north and potentially give some sleet over elevation across the hills of the south of England and mountains of Wales. Some uncertainty about where this rain / wintry shower mix will head ultimately but it looks like affecting The South West, Wales and Midlands initially before heading north initially before spinning round and dropping back south to affect all of Wales and the southern half of the U.K later. Some of the rain will be heavy with flooding likely across Wales particularly. Ireland looks to be mainly dry save for some showers across the south east and likewise for Scotland with some winter sunshine threatening. A nice cold day across Scotland with 5-7°C likely and not much higher further south.

Onto Christmas Eve and probably the only spray day of the week before Christmas. Going to be tricky for me to spray and cook a traditional Danish Christmas meal but multi-tasking is an asset of mine 🙂

So now we see that cold air arrive with the wind turning more northerly and that’s the way it is going to stay for here on. Dry and sunny for just about everyone with a possible frost early doors and a bracing north wind which will have everyone wrapping up well. Get those wooly hats, gloves and buffs out because you’re going to need them ! So dry, cold and sunny, maybe with the odd shower skirting down the east coast of England and west coast of Wales but other than that, dry, sunny and cold for us all. A drying day at last and the first for awhile for many areas. Just like last autumn / winter, there’s been a pronounced lack of them.

Weather Outlook – Christmas Day – New Year

So above is the GFS projection for Christmas Day but it’s actually the prelude to some much colder weather. You can see the packed isobars and the northerly wind aspect quite clearly. So a similar day to Christmas Eve, plenty of dry weather around but there will be some showers of rain and sleet pushing down from the north west of Scotland and Ireland for the second half of the day. Some of these showers will be wintry over elevation so just maybe I might squeeze one or two northern locations on my Paddy Power bets…just one would break even 🙂 . Later in the day we will see more in the way of showers consolidating to heavier rain for the west of Scotland a change in wind direction to north westerly.

Boxing Day starts off in a similar fashion but that rain is building across the north west of Scotland and Ireland and that’ll push south through the second half of the day. It’ll be a mix of rain and wintry showers over elevation as well. So a dry start and for the southern half of England a dry one until later but that cold air is on the way and by the 27th it’ll be in place. Compare the GFS image above for the 25th Dec above with the one below for the 27th and you’ll see what I mean.

So a really deep and cold low pressure trough will form from the 27th and that’ll pull in very cold air and snow showers I think from from east together with night frosts. These showers will mainly affect the north and north east of the country but will stream down through the day from the 27th falling as rain, sleet and snow. Going on from here we look to stay in this cold temperature trough with night frosts, some dry, cold days and some isolated showers to longer spells of rain, sleet and snow through till The New Year. So some lovely winter sunshine and crisp, cold mornings, great for working off that Christmas food but a biting wind will be a consistent theme through to the New Year and beyond. Still the threat of showers across Ireland and the U.K, so not completely dry but I don’t see prolonged moisture until the 2nd of January when it’ll push in from the east and this may mean another bout of snow for the east coast of England. Below is the GFS output for New Year’s Day and you can see how that cold temperature trough is still in situ pulling down cold winds.

Agronomic Notes

So the first part of this week with the mild air and threat of dew will continue to promote high disease pressure across the U.K and Ireland but as that high pressure / low pressure sandwich forms, the wind direction will change, the mild air will get pushed south and we will drop into that cold temperature trough. So 3 more days of disease pressure, particularly across Ireland and the south of England and then we should be done for a good while with cold air and frosts doing a better job to hold back disease than any fungicide.

Just like last winter there’s been a pronounced lack of drying days with the ground saturated in many places. As one contributor commented to me today, he’s had two bad accidents out on the course where golfers have slipped and fallen and he won’t be the only one. Up to today I’ve counted 17 wet days out of the last 21, which means no chance for the soil to dry out and saturated surfaces remain so. At least there’s a break in sight because that cold air from the 27th accompanied by frosts and a north wind will really help dry soils down. Long overdue it is as well.

Thankfully the arrival of cold air will also put a stop to worm casting and insect activity, as I’ve already noted Bibionid activity on a fairway in the south of England. With an extended lockdown a distinct possibility in The New Year and course closures, it might seem a good time to get an aeration in but we now have to have one eye on the risk of Leatherjacket damage in February and March if we carry open holes into the late winter / early spring. I think we may have to re-think our entire aeration strategy and with lockdown providing opportunities for clubs with resource to aerate at different times of the year, we may have learnt some interesting lessons in 2020.

OK, that’s me done for 2020. I won’t be starting back till well into January as I have some holiday and down time both pending and needed.

So all that remains is to wish you a good one, to try to make the best of what is a very difficult situation and let’s hope the new year brings with it some positivity amongst the chaos 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt