November 29th, 2021

Hi All,

Nearly finished with November but its last 2 days will be something of a contrast with today starting off close to -4°C in places and tomorrow the forecast is for 13°C !

Out walking yesterday at a very bleak Rutland Water, the haze in the distance marks the imminent arrival of snow and on the drive home it was like a Christmas wonderland.

Two weeks ago I was walking around there in a T-Shirt. Such is the variability of our climate nowadays, you wonder how nature copes with such things ?

I was reflecting yesterday on 3 different aspects of wildlife behaviour that are ultimately down to our changing autumn / winter climate.

The picture above is of 2 Hedgehogs feeding last night, it was actually -2.5°C according to my weather station and the lawn behind them has a covering of snow. Their parents would be hibernating by now but these young ones need to pack on fat so they’re still feeding and will in my experience go all the way through till the other side of Christmas if Mother Nature lets them. Our local wildlife sanctuary is full of baby Hedgehogs whose parents have presumably began hibernation before finishing weaning, leaving their offspring to cope without a supply of milk.

Still on the subject of garden wildlife, I have both Pied and Yellow / Grey Wagtails coming to the garden now every day to feed. They appear as soon as insect populations / activity declines with cold temperature in the autumn and disappear in the spring when insects activity picks up. The Pied Wagtail has been coming for a few years now, but it’s a first to see a Yellow / Grey Wagtail (haven’t quite worked out which species it is as its a juvenile). These birds are so adaptable. When you’re out Christmas Shopping in well-lit shopping centres, you’ll see flocks of Wagtails in the roof tops feeding on the insects attracted to the ever-present lights. Clever buggers them.

Lastly, walking around Rutland I noticed both Common and Great White Egret feeding in the margins. 10 years ago they wouldn’t have been here but in that time they have moved from Africa to France and then to the south coast of the U.K and Ireland and thereafter progressively inland. I remember first seeing them in the Cobh estuary down near Cork and being completely surprised. Now they feed in the river flowing through the middle of my town.

Nature as always will find a way (quote Jurassic Park 🙂 )

Got sent this lovely image above (thanks John) aimed squarely at my Danish heritage. It did make me laugh and was presumably written by another Scandi type…..onto the weather…

GFS Output 29-11-21

General Weather Situation

So as we are poised to start meteorological winter on Dec 1st (it runs from December to the end of Feb), there’s snow on the ground. It’ll be gone by tomorrow but may be back again in the near future me thinks. So as predicted we start the week with a big trough event sitting to the east of us, with the east side of the country in particular picking up some of that cold air.

So Monday sees a pretty clear and very cold start to the week with snow cover for many UK areas after Sunday’s snowfall. Ireland will probably be frost-free due to cloud cover but across The Irish Sea it looks like a very frosty start and some Brass Monkeys weather for many. During the morning a rain / sleet / snow front will push down from the north into northeastern and then Central Scotland and move slowly southwards with both westerly and easterly coasts getting moisture at some point on Monday. They’ll also be some rogue snow showers pushing in off The North Sea into north eastern and eastern coasts of England through the morning. As we progress through Monday, cloud cover will increase over Wales and England and the temperature will begin to pick up slowly, though no great shakes like. Ireland looks to have a reasonably dry day save for some rain over northern counties and Scotland, a wet one. Temperature-wise, 8-10°C for Scotland and Ireland with that milder air, staying a little cooler for Wales and much colder as we head east across England with temperatures stubbornly rising just above freezing across central and eastern areas.

Overnight into Tuesday and that air temperature has just kept on rising so by morning it’ll be 6-8°C for most with rain still over coastal areas of Scotland. Dry elsewhere. During the late morning we will see a new rain front push into the north of Ireland and north west / west of Scotland. This rain looks heavy potentially and it will move across Ireland and Scotland through the course of the afternoon. Further south, we should see milder weather, cloudy, dull, but a big temperature change from Monday with 10-14°C likely across England and Wales. Some showers will push south across northern and central UK through the course of the day with that rain moving into Wales and the north west of England through the course of Tuesday night. Winds will be moderate and westerly.

Onto Wednesday and a cooler start for many though frost-free I think due to cloud cover. Dry as well for most but as with most days this week, it isn’t a clear picture. Through the course of Wednesday morning, we will see a mix of rain, sleet and snow for Central Scotland and The Highlands move south into the north of England and later North Wales / Wales and the east of England around The Humber. They’ll also be showers across the north and north west of Ireland, principally along the coasts but a few straying inland. So a mixture of northern rain, wintry showers but drier for England and Wales until later in the day. Cooler on Wednesday as that westerly wind turns more northerly and drops the temperature down to 6-8°C.

Thursday dawns bright, cold and frosty and that’s pretty much how the day looks with long spells of winter sunshine. Some wintry showers around possibly first thing across West Wales and The South West, as well as north eastern coasts of England. A moderate to strong northerly wind will keep temperatures down into the low single figures accompanied by a negative windchill I think. A bold and brassy winters day for sure. Dry until Thursday evening when more rain and wintry showers will move into the west of Scotland and north of Ireland, moving south. As this moisture hits the cold air it’ll turn readily to snow over elevation.

Overnight into Friday, this band of moisture will have pushed south and east across Ireland and Scotland and into the north of England and Wales, so a wet start to the end of the week for many though it should have cleared Scotland, Ireland and the far north of England by dawn and be centred over the southern half of the U.K. Through the course of the morning this band of wintry showers, sleet and rain will move south and east clearing England’s south eastern corner by lunchtime (ish). So Friday should be dry and dull for Ireland and the north after overnight wintry showers / rain, but starting wet for the southern half of England and Wales and clearing through the day. The winds will be changeable veering from south westerly to north westerly and pinning the temperature down to 6°C.

The outlook for the weekend is reasonable if you like cold and largely dry for most areas though there’s a risk of showers on Saturday for Scotland and these may trouble the north west coast of England and Ireland as well. Sunday looks the better day, still with a risk of some coastal showers but largely dry, bright and cold for most. Maybe enough cloud cover to prevent frost but that’ll depend on your location. They’ll be a strong westerly wind in place on Saturday, veering northerly for Sunday and keeping the temperature down to 4-6°C . For the second half of Sunday, rain is projected to push into the west of Ireland and move slowly eastwards.

GFS Output 06-12-21

Weather Outlook

So we seem to be in a sequence of cold, northerly low pressure systems that push in from the north and west on a regular basis.

Next week looks like being no exception as Monday looks to start wet for Ireland and the west of the U.K as rain moves eastwards across all areas. Tuesday should be drier for the west but still with a risk of rain and wintry showers as the low pressure systems trailing edge drags colder northerly winds down for a time. Wednesday sees the wet, unsettled weather continue with strong winds and frequent rain / wintry showers before a new Atlantic low pressure swings those winds more south westerly and pulls milder, wetter air from the west, accompanied by strong winds. This looks to continue through to the end of the week. By Friday we look to be settling down again before the next low is projected to arrive for the weekend. So a cold, unsettled week on the cards next week, with strong winds at times and remaining cool. I’m guessing 5-8°C sort of territory. Mystic Megging it, there’s a suggestion of more stable weather for the middle of December which will likely mean higher disease pressure possibly but some spray windows for that all-important pre-Christmas spray.

Agronomic Notes

Thanks to Sean for sending me this Christmas postcard image of The Oxfordshire this morning 🙂

Some pretty serious windchill around since Friday when winter arrived with a vengeance dropping down to -5.6°C yesterday (Sunday) morning as you can see from the graph below.

It would be interesting to continue this graph into tomorrow because of the mild air pushing in from the west. It’s going to be some transition and of course we will all be concerned about the possibility of disease as rapid thaws always seem to encourage Microdochium nivale growth in my mind. Whether it’s the fact that the leaf surface is easier for the fungus to enter or some other mechanism I don’t know, but rapid thaws are definitely not great. If you look at the forecast we are likely to experience a 16°C temperature shift in some places over the next 24 hours from -3°C this morning to +13°C tomorrow afternoon. Crazy, just crazy. The only good news I can offer is that the spell of mild air is going to be very short-lived because by Tuesday night into Wednesday morning we will be dropping temperature, but not before a balmy start to the night and that’s my concern.

Our disease model picks up the threat from this rapid thaw as can be seen below moving from the 29th of November into the 30th….

Disease pressure for the coming week – South Wales

Sorry I couldn’t get the axis to display hourly but it was just one of them…The disease intensity peaks at around 70% at this location so it isn’t off the scale and if you have applications like hardener, irons in place and / or dew control then you could very well ride out this one quite happily. As mentioned above it is projected to be a short-lived affair so fingers crossed.

Feedback from the other side of the fence….

So last week I attended the Croptec exhibition at the East of England Arena wearing my Prodata Davis weather station hat and most enlightening it was too.

It is a primarily agricultural show but had some good seminars including this one that looked at the likely scenario of events following the transition from CRD to DEFRA in terms of pesticidal controls. There were a couple of speakers, one agronomist who advised a farming group and another who worked on pesticides specifically. The former showed a graph where a crop of winter wheat grown in 2011 previously required a total of 2,000 gms of fungicide A.I per ha to control disease.

In 2021, they are doing the same job with 1,200 gms of A.I.

The difference was down primarily to the loss of Chlorothalonil from the agricultural market and a number of farmers bemoaned the lack of a good, broad spectrum fungicide with good resistance properties.

Interestingly, their 1,200 gms of A.I was applied over 7 sprays using 8 different A.I’s !!!!!

8 different A.I’s eh, you can but smile……

They also expressed huge concern at the next impending review of glyphosate and the fact that without it a good number of current tillage systems are not likely to be feasible.

I was surprised to find out that farmers receive a grant towards purchasing various items of equipment in order to make their operation more efficient. This is called The Farming Equipment & Technology Fund where if they spend a certain amount of money they can receive a grant payment towards various items including a Weather Station. Nice job if you can get it, I wonder if Defra would open that up to the amenity market using the same rationale as for agriculture ?

I also had some amusing discussions, I asked one farmer how he knew how much water to apply on his pumpkin crop ?

“I kick the ground” he said…..but his grandfather always swore that applying 30mm was just the right amount of water !!!!!

Thankfully this chap was interested in a more scientific approach going forward :).

I asked another farmer if he was interested in weather stations ? He was he said…”What do you currently use ?” I asked…..”A cup” came back the reply.

Priceless……

It wasn’t all like this. Some growers were really switched on and knew how their yield varied according to PAR and U.V levels from one year to the next, impressive.

All in all, a good experience for me and one that definitely broadened my horizons !

All the best for the coming week

Mark Hunt