24th February

Hi All,

As another grim Monday morning unveils itself after an equally dismal weekend, it looks like another run of Groundhog Day. Each time high pressure appears on the GFS outlook on the 10-day outlook, it gets brushed aside by a brutally strong jet stream and more low pressure systems arrive instead.

This time last year we were already making a start on spring with temperatures in the south of England well up into the high teens and growth kicking off in earnest. So whatever Mother Nature continues to throw our way, it is worth remembering that as each week goes by, it brings us closer to Spring and some warm sunshine.

We just have to continue to deal with this current weather pattern until it changes 🙁

Looking across The Atlantic, they are still getting hit with really heavy winter weather. My friend out in Breckenridge, Colorado reported another 16″ of fresh snow yesterday, the picture below is his driveway.

That snowy low pressure then heads down the States, hooks a right hand turn (as we look at it) and picks up temperature and moisture across The Atlantic.

By the time we get it, it is rain and lots of it…This was York at the weekend…Thankfully Betty’s Tea Room and the infamous Fat Rascals survived I’m told….I was also told that some hardy sole in a canoe used the trees in the foreground as a slalom course !!!!

If we look at the jet stream pattern  across The Atlantic today, you can see it is a pretty straight line between the U.S and the U.K / Ireland. So the bottom line I am afraid is there’s very little change in the current pattern of high rainfall and high winds. I was running around Rutland Water peninsular at the weekend and at times it more closely resembled The North Sea. (I didn’t stop to take a pic)

Waiting for this weather to change is a bit like sitting on a station platform waiting for a late train that keeps getting delayed more and more the closer it gets to the station. There is a change on the GFS outlook but I’m not holding my breath until it holds position over a week of forecasts.

Like our industry, agriculture is taking a very big hit this winter with many areas unsuitable for planting in the autumn and this has extended through to the present day. You’ll be seeing a lot of spring crops and Maize this year and far fewer oilseed rape fields as the wet weather and insect damage threatens plant survival into the spring.

Over-wintering wildlife is also being drastically affected with many nests and burrows flooding. I found a dead Hedgehog last week, one of a late autumn breed that didn’t make it. It either had died from hypothermia, lack of body fat or an internal parasite. Either way it is one less and that’s a shame. I’m noticing more and more different bird species coming into the garden to be fed as food reserves out in the countryside are depleted. Pied Wagtails, Song Thrush and Long-Tailed Tits are more frequent visitors now. We must help them all if we can.

General Weather Situation

So the last Monday morning in February sees a new low pressure sitting across the U.K & Ireland bringing a mix of heavy rain and wintry showers / snow across elevation. (Ho Hum)

This low pressure is just clearing Ireland so a drier start to the week there after a wet Sunday. Across the U.K we will see the heaviest rain across Wales, The North West and Scotland, but they’ll be plenty across The South and Midlands as well I am afraid. (6 mm and counting here) This band of rain and wintry showers will clear slowly from the west from lunchtime but expect it to affect Scotland and the south of England through to dusk, with snow more likely across Scotland. Temperature-wise, there’s big variation today with Scotland down in low single figures vs. Wales / Ireland just nudging double figures. So 3-11°C is the order of the day with strong westerly winds.

Tuesday sees a drier day for the north, east and south of the country as that low pressure moves off onto the continent. Ireland will start dry but not for long as more rain, wintry showers and snow over elevation push in from The Atlantic. For the U.K, we will see the same mix across The South West, West Wales, The North West and west coast of Scotland from the off with showers rattling in on a strong westerly wind. Further inland it’ll be dry, sunny, cool and windy for the best part of the day. As we go through the afternoon those rain, sleet and snow showers will continue to push across Ireland and make more progress inland, so most inland areas may see some showers arrive later in the day. Through Tuesday night we may also see a line of showers falling as sleet and snow across The North Midlands, Peak District and The Pennines. Much colder on Tuesday with temperatures down between 5-7°C, with a moderate to strong westerly wind in situ.

Wednesday sees a ridge of high pressure assert itself, albeit briefly, but it will bring a welcome respite to the worst hit areas. So a good drying day with some sunshine, strong north westerly winds and only a few showers troubling the west coast of Ireland and the U.K. As we approach Wednesday evening a new ridge of rain, sleet and snow will push into the south west of Ireland and move eastwards. This rain is associated with a low pressure system passing to the south of the U.K, so overnight into Thursday we can expect to see rain push into The South West, South Wales and the south coast of England. Similar temperatures on Wednesday to Tuesday with strong to gale force, north westerly winds keeping things on the cool side.

Onto Thursday and that low pressure is across the south of England and South Wales by dawn and tracking eastwards. North of this rain, it should be a dry start to the day for Ireland, the north of England and Scotland. Through the course of the morning  that rain tracks eastwards clearing Wales, The South West and West Midlands as it does so.  It will generate some snow / sleet showers over higher ground across The Midlands and north of England briefly for a time. At the same time we could see some wintry showers affecting the west coast of Scotland. So starting wet in the west / south west and then clearing through as the day goes by with that rain stubbornly hanging over East Anglia late on Thursday, finally clearing at dusk. Ireland looks to have dry day once the rain has moved out of Leinster early on Thursday. Cool everywhere with temperatures down at 4-6°C.

Closing out what is projected to be a pretty unsettled week we see more rain, sleet and wintry showers pushing over Ireland first thing on Friday morning. These will be joined by a belt of wintry showers extending from The Peak District all the way up to Scotland. By late morning that rain across Ireland is pushing into Wales with heavy bursts across South Wales I am afraid. Moving eastwards the rain will be into southern England and The Midlands by late morning with only the east coast of England and Scotland remaining dry. By late afternoon that rain has cleared Ireland and the west of the U.K, pushing across eastern coasts for the 2nd half of the day. Ireland’s respite is a brief one though as another low pressure system is already pushing into the west and south west of Ireland as dusk approaches on Friday. A slightly milder feel to the day with a strong south westerly wind ushering up milder air through the course of the day. Temperature-wise 6-9°C

With low pressure pushing across Ireland and the west of the U.K late on Friday, it’ll come as no surprise that Saturday morning dawns wet and windy for most areas across the U.K, with some of those showers falling as snow over elevation. Ireland looks to start dry. Through Saturday morning though, the rain will quickly push off eastwards leaving a sunshine and showers mix behind it. So dry over many parts of the south of the U.K, Ireland and Wales, still with some blustery, wintry showers for The North West and western Scotland though. Cool and windy (again) on Saturday for the dry areas with temperatures down in the range of 6-8°C. Sunday sees another ridge of high pressure push in so a much drier, sunnier day for everyone here, albeit with a cool north westerly wind in situ. Through the afternoon we will continue to see some showers, some of the wintry across The North West and west of Scotland. Some of these showers will push inland later in the day. Cool on Sunday with 5-7°C expected and strong north westerly winds moderating as we go through the day.

Weather Outlook – part 1

Before I take a look at next week’s prognosis weather-wise, I thought it would be interesting to look back at my little exercise last week, comparing the GFS and ECMWF model projections for this week.

You may remember I showed 2 images last week, both projections for the 27th of February (so 10 days ahead at this time last week) and I’ve compared them with the actual scenario we are likely to get on the 27th projected today for 3 days time.

So on the top and bottom images on the LHS, we have a projection made 10 days out for the 27th Feb vs. one below made 3-days out. Both by the GFS model. On the right we have the same, but this time projected by the ECMWF model.

You can see some subtle differences in each case between the 10-day projection and the 3-day projection. The low temperature zone (in blue) is coming further south and there’s a low pressure system in the 3-day projections that wasn’t there in the 10-day. They aren’t a million miles away with the general ‘shape’ of the weather pattern, but they are still inaccurate.

So what you might say, it’s still yakking down outside  ?

Well it means that the 10-day projection was for milder and unsettled weather whereas what we are likely to get is colder and wetter weather with a more defined low pressure system passing over us giving heavier rain.

The upshot then as I’ve always maintained is that 10-day forecasting is at the very limit of even the best meteorological models. In this case both GFS and ECMWF were wide of the mark. So when you get someone professing to know how spring is going to be or maybe The Daily Express launch one of their now infamously inaccurate, meteorological headlines, you can safely confine it to the rubbish bin or better still, recycle it 🙂

Weather Outlook – part 2

So next week looks like this….(pause for a sigh or two)

Next Monday looks to kick off with a low pressure system already across Ireland and destined to affect the west and south of the U.K through the day. Windy with it as is the norm now with strong westerlies in place. Tuesday looks to be very wet with rain across all areas but then we break down into a more showery, unsettled sort of picture through the rest of the week with a cooler north-westerly air stream in place. This air stream is the result of high pressure trying to build out in The Atlantic so in a way it could be good news. It looks like more rain and strong winds for the end of next week / weekend before high pressure does indeed build and push the rest of the rain north of us.

Now as eluded to above, this high pressure has been a long time coming so let’s not hold our breath. If it’s still on track at the end of the week, they’ll be more certainty attached to it. Fingers crossed but wet and windy before it may get here I am afraid.

Agronomic Notes

Well as you can expect with saturated ground on many sites and difficulty getting machinery out of the shed, there isn’t a great deal I can or indeed want to talk about.

Bit of surprise disease activity…

Last week saw some Microdochium nivale activity which came as a surprise to me because of the wind strength through the week. I would have expected this to have been enough to knock back any fungal mycelium development. The driving factor could have been a ridge of mild air that came through at the end of the previous week and repeated itself last week as well. Bit of a head scratcher that one, hmmmm.

The prognosis for this week disease-wise is low due again to wind strength, lack of dew development and cooler temperatures. I can’t see it changing from that any time soon with the next disease activity likely to coincide with an uplift in temperatures heralding the start of spring. At that stage most people prefer to grow out the disease rather than apply a fungicide.

With the calendar nudging towards March, it means the clock is ticking in terms of customers expectations on the golf side and of course the annual conversion from winter season pitch to cricket that we see across the country. It goes without saying that we could really do with a break in the weather to give you guys time to complete winter projects, surface preparation and the like.

Moss ingression

I get asked about moss encroachment a lot nowadays, whether it be Silver Thread Moss or the more open Moss species.

This winter has really suited moss because we have had consistent wetness on the soil, it’s been cool so grass growth has been poorer than usual at out-competing the moss and with that rain comes lots of cloud cover and low light levels, further diminishing the ability of the grass plant to compete with moss.

With the use-up date for Mogeton, the 30th June, 2020, this will be our last spring season with this product if you already have stock sitting in your chemsafe. That will just leave either sulphate of iron-registered mossicide products or Carfentrazone. I’d only anticipate another year with the latter as well.

So often moss ingression is down to cultural factors and so we sometimes spend a lot of time (and money) dealing with the symptom rather than the cause. Moss tends to ingress on areas with high surface organic matter, typically on golf greens it prevails in low play areas where the pin is seldom placed. It can also be an issue for entirely the opposite reason, with moss colonising areas where the turf has been under heat stress and sward density has been lost. Ridges and areas affected by bunker splash sand are typical.

As we come into the spring and whilst soil moisture levels are still sufficient (not a problem at the moment I’d say !), it sometimes pays to get out early with a high iron product registered for moss control to knock back the moss but at the same time encourage grass growth so as the days lengthen and soil temperatures rise (here’s hoping), the grass begins to colonise the areas affected by moss. It also sets you up nicely for spring scarification to remove the dead and decaying moss plant rather than just spreading it around.

OK, short and sweet this week (a bit like me :))

As eluded to above I’ll update at the end of the week if that longer-term change in the weather remains on track. In the mean time I wish you all the best for what will be another tough week.

Mark Hunt