Hi All,

Looking out of the office window this morning it looked more like October than May with thick fog and a pretty chilly / dull start to the day. I guess one thing we don’t need right now would be a slug of warm weather and for the grass to be flying out of the ground with a furloughed workforce and all.

Well we will pick up some heat later this week but it will be transitory and then followed I think by a pretty wet and cool weekend with a significant dip in temperature on Sunday that’ll have all of us reaching for another layer of clothing. One for staying in and attempting to make authentic Danish Pastry for me I think 🙂

I like this time of year ordinarily. Everything is so fresh and green and the hedgerows are bursting with Keck (Cow Parsley), Campion, Dead Nettles and Wild Garlic. The summer migrants are back so our wildlife numbers are swelled by Warblers, Martins and Swallows and with the lack of traffic and airplanes overhead, you can hear the bird song more acutely now can’t you ?

Out walking yesterday I slipped into my usual silent rant about the lack of a lovely cafe, coffee and flapjack stop that is now a consequence of lock-down.

Almost like a mirage coming out of the heat (well gloom) I spotted a local pub that had set up a Deli counter and shop for the village and someone with an extremely acute business acumen had the sense to move the coffee machine out there as well. Happy Days indeed !!:)

So imagine my delight at my first proper Latte (a Flat White was pushing it I was told) in nigh on six weeks. So I sat on a bridge across a busy babbling brook, took in the smell of Wild Garlic from a nearby copse and drank a really nice coffee whilst the Buzzards mewed overhead.

Little things please little minds they say, but I’ll take any amount of them at the moment thank you.

Before I get onto the weather I’d just like to say thank you for all the emails, Whats app’s, texts and comments to this blog offering sympathy and kind words at the loss of my mum. You are a cracking bunch and I thank you.

General Weather Situation

So above is the GFS chart for today and you can see the weather is delicately balanced. Below us is a finger of heat pushing up from Africa into Spain, Portugal and Italy bringing them some nice weather to celebrate their easing of lock-down.  You may also notice on the bottom LHS of the chart, a low pressure system that is heading up towards The Bay of Biscay, it gets nudged out of the way during the week but looks to be successful at a second attempt at influencing our weather and it is this frontal system that will likely bring us a wet and cool weekend.

So starting off today, we have a pretty dull and dry start for most, but of course there are exceptions. Ireland looks to be brighter with a sunny start to the week whereas across The North East we have a raft of showers moving south down across Yorkshire and Humberside before these fizzle out during the afternoon. Not a bad start to the week once the sun breaks through with temperatures up into the mid to high teens, kept down by a strengthening easterly wind.

Tuesday sees a weather front bringing rain into the south west of England and Ireland early doors. Some of this rain will be heavy locally. This rain will make slow progress pushing along the south coast of Ireland into Cork and South Waterford and across into the west country but no further before dissipating at the end of the afternoon. Ahead of this rain the front will push cloud into the south of the U.K and Midlands during the day so a duller, cloudier south of the country vs. a brighter and warmer north on Tuesday. If you see the sun you should see temperatures up in the mid to high teens for the north Midlands upwards and a lovely day particularly in Scotland. That rain front will however push in some easterlies so where you have the cloud cover it’ll be on the cool side for most of the day. Dry but cool in those easterlies for Ireland.

Wednesday sees a west – east split in the weather as that South Atlantic low pressure pushes cloud and rain into the south of Ireland during the morning. Further east across Wales, England and Scotland we have a dull start to the day but the sun will break through from the east first and give us a much better second half of the day. For Ireland it’ll be a dull one and for the south, a wet one as well with the rain pushing up to a line drawn from Waterford across to The Burren, I’d say at a guess. So as that sun breaks through in the east and south it’ll push the temperatures up into the high teens, maybe just shy of the magical 20°C along the M25. Further west across Ireland, expect low teens under that cloud cover. Winds will be moderate and from the east / south-east. Scotland picks up another warm, bright and sunny day with similar temperatures to the south of the country.

Thursday sees that west – east split continue with the Atlantic low pushing cloud and showers across Ireland whereas the U.K will sit in the shelter of a continental high so probably the warmest day of the week here as bright sunshine and clear skies push temperatures up into the 20’s. As we go through the day we may see some showers break out over the west coast of Wales, The Lakes and north-west Scotland. Ireland will hang onto that rain for the whole day but during the afternoon it’ll become more prevalent over Connacht and the north. Winds will be light to moderate and predominantly south easterly.

Friday closes out the week with a similar picture to Thursday initially, that of rain across the west of Ireland and more cloud for the southern and western half of the U.K. Through the morning this rain pushes up the west coast of Ireland and into the north west of Scotland before moving further inland into central areas of Scotland through the second half of the day. This rain will be welcome in Scotland as they’ve been dry with a capital ‘D’. Further south over England and Wales we will see more in the way of snap showers, maybe with the odd rumble of thunder through the afternoon / evening across the north of England / North Wales particularly. Still warm though with similar temperatures to Thursday, high teens tickling into the twenties. All the time though that Atlantic low pressure is lurking off the south west coast of Ireland.

The weekend looks to start dry for Ireland, Wales and England whilst Scotland sees that rain from Friday continue overnight. Through Saturday morning this rain will push southwards into The Borders and north of England whilst at the same time we will see rain push up from The Channel into the south coast of England. Ireland will see the same, a dry start but showers building through Saturday morning. As we progress through Saturday, those showers will consolidate into longer spells of rain across all areas of the U.K and Ireland. Some of that rain will be heavy. Temperatures will stay up in the high teens though despite a northerly / north easterly wind. Sunday looks like a pretty bloody awful day with a massive swing south in the temperatures to high single figures in a raw north easterly wind that will strengthen to gale force. I can even see a wintry showers marker over The Peaks ! The worst of the rain will be from The Midlands south on Sunday with areas further north and west staying drier but maybe not totally dry with showers across Ireland, though less widespread. So for the south of England and maybe South Wales, definitely a home jobs / cooking day I think !!

Weather Outlook

Above is the projection for next Monday and as you can see we have a lot of cool air on the chart and closely-packed isobars so that means a cool and unsettled start to the week with that wind swinging in from the north and east. With that wind direction staying pretty much in situ for the whole week I can’t see that prognosis changing much. High pressure does push that low out of the way as we go through the week though so I’m expecting temperatures to recover to the low to mid-teens through the week and it’ll be reasonably dry. A north east wind can throw in showers from The North Sea particularly in off The Wash and across The Midlands and north of England but I think predominantly dry with the forecast confidence increasing the further west you go. As we approach next weekend, that low pressure system that surfaced for this weekend is projected to make a re-appearance and bring more rain to the southern half of the U.K, but that’s a long way off and plenty of things can change during then and now.

Agronomic Notes

OK, since this is the start of the month we will have a look back at April and see how we fared….

Monthly GDD – U.K location – Thame

So April chipped in with one of the highest GDD figures we have seen with only April 2011 coming in higher. Temperature is only half the story though as we will see later when we look at rainfall (or rather lack of it) and E.T for April. Nonetheless April was a lovely warm month and if I was charting U.V levels, it must have been one of the highest U.V level April’s because we ‘enjoyed’ a run of bright, cloudless and sunny days.

That warm April has put 2020 pretty much ahead of the pack in terms of cumulative GDD and that might go someway to explaining the very high insect populations we are seeing out there.

GDD and Rainfall – April 2020 – U.K Locations

So April 2020 in the U.K showed pretty similar numbers for England and Wales with low levels of rainfall (it was a dry month) and plenty of GDD.  The exception though was Scotland which endured the worst type of conditions in my book, dry and cold with only 5mm of rain for Fife in April (and that hardly counted as it fell on the 29th of the month !!) and only 69.2 GDD for the month, an average of just over 2 GDD per day, in other words, diddly squat. Most of the other locations show that half of the monthly rainfall for April fell over the last 3 days, so all in all it was a warm, but very dry month. Thankfully then for golf courses under furlough, this didn’t result in growth coming out of our ears and the grass in silage mode because moisture was growth-limiting in April rather than temperature. For Scotland, I would think from those stats, practically nothing moved. Jersey comes in again as the highest GDD with the highest rainfall, I’m now beginning to understand why Matt moved :).

On a side note, golf courses on Jersey have stayed open during the outbreak but limited to the single player or two from the same household. Matt reported more juniors coming out with their parents to play so maybe there’s a positive side to the lock-down after all 🙂

GDD and Rainfall – April 2020 – Irish Locations

Ireland followed a similar pattern but clearly didn’t pick up the warmth from the continent that the U.K did, with significantly lower GDD on all sites and very consistent across Ireland. Rainfall amounts were low, mirroring the U.K with the west and south of Ireland picking up the most from the southerly-orientated low pressure systems. Again there were long periods of no rainfall across Ireland in April, which I think is unusual. Dublin reported 22 dry days out of 30 for the month with a longest run of 8 days without rain. It would have been a great month for golf in Ireland I’m sad to say 🙁

Growth in April 2020

You can clearly see the pattern for the Irish and U.K locations above, high daily GDD for certain periods but very low rainfall levels with long periods of no rainfall. The southern half of the U.K showed a period of nearly 28 days extending from the 15th of March with no rainfall over 1 mm and only 2 days with a trace. We also saw significant dry-down during this period with the bright sunny weather ramping up daily E.T rates leading to a significant moisture deficit through the month of April.

Moisture Deficit – April 2020

As you can see from the graph above we had a fairly consistent moisture deficit across England and Ireland (I don’t have E.T figures for Wales and Scotland) across the month of April and it is this that would have kept grass growth manageable rather than a lack of temperature. This is particularly true on areas outside of irrigation like rough and un-irrigated outfields.

That said, when you take into account the place we are in with furloughed staff and in some cases 1 man to maintain 180 hectares of site, this dry spell and resultant moisture deficit was a god send.

Nonetheless in terms of getting recovery on areas that suffered over the winter, it wasn’t particularly helpful and for the golfers that return (whenever they do), they may not find everything to their liking.

That said, I know from tasting that first proper coffee, the vast majority will only be too happy just be outdoors and playing golf and maybe as they’ve found out on Jersey, it could lead to a bit of a junior resurgence.

Every cloud and all that….

All the best.

Mark Hunt