Hi All

Well some of us copt a fair packet of snow over the weekend with 6″ here, followed by a thaw through the day on Sunday and overnight. (Still managed to get some good sledging in though 🙂 Watching it on the radar, the front of moisture moved in a straight line, (you can still see the pattern in the graphic below) falling as rain over Ireland, Wales and the West Country, but turning to snow over The Midlands and further south and east of this.

Courtesy of Meteoblue - Thanks Karl !!

At present we have a real west-east split and looking at the graphic on the right you can see why Ireland is in double figures and the east is barely above freezing. You guessed it, it’s one of those blocking events again with the west sitting under a warm peak and the east sitting in a cold trough. The graphic is showing what’s projected to happen over the next three days and as you can see initially we get some more cold air from the continent for Tuesday and Wednesday, but after that temperatures will pick up a little as that warmer air pushes in. The transition won’t be a fast one though for the east / south-east of the country, but it will be faster the closer you are to the dividing line between snow and no snow.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday, a gentle thaw for the east and south-east continues through the day, whilst the west will be milder. Where the warm air meets the cold air, it’ll be pretty foggy for most of the day as well and they’ll be light rain for the west of the U.K. For Ireland we have a weak band of rain moving across Munster and Leinster through the day, dying out over night. For Tuesday, there’s a chance of some snow showers drifting in off the North Sea and affecting the east coast of the U.K, the rest of the U.K remains dull with temperatures dropping through the day as that cold air, shown above, pushes in with a hard frost on Tuesday night for the U.K, but not for Ireland. Wednesday sees a band of rain just touching the west coast of Ireland, but this might be kept at bay by that cold, continental air flow. Elsewhere a repeat of Tuesday, but feeling pretty raw in a north-east wind, finishing off with a very hard frost Wednesday night. Thursday sees that rain front affect the west and north of Ireland and Scotland and as that cold air moves south, it will fall as snow in the north of England. More frost is forecast for Thursday night, but it’ll be less harsh as temperatures slowly pick up.That rain makes more progress across Ireland on Friday, so a wet day for the end of the week, whilst the U.K stays pretty dull and finishes with a frost for Friday night. Temperatures during the day will only just stay above freezing during the week with a slight thaw during the day from Thursday / Friday.

Outlook

Of course the question that everyone wants to know the answer to, if they have snow, is when will it be gone ? I think we’ve got this cold weather till the mid part of next week, but I expect a slow thaw during Monday and Tuesday this week and from the end of the week onwards, but it will be slow mind. For next week, I think temperatures will continue to pick up slowly after dipping initially for the start of the week and by mid-week we should see mild air come in from the west and really move that snow away for the end of next week. For Ireland and the west, it’ll be slightly in reverse because it’s currently mild and it’ll get cooler for the early part of next week before temperatures recover.

Agronomic Notes

With the west-east divide, my notes are really split into two, perhaps three parts if you take into account Ireland (which I do of course:). The mild, moist air over Ireland will produce high disease pressure, so be on your guard here. Pecking for bibionids and leatherjackets will also continue and this is a real issue at present on lots of courses, a legacy of the mild weather on the run up to Christmas.

Areas without snow are stuck in the middle with a frozen soil and thawed surface from the weekend’s rain and that’s a tricky combination because effectively you’ll have a perched water table above the frozen rootzone. If this continues it’ll be very easy for this to develop into Hypoxia, that is the grass plant becomes deficient in oxygen as the roots are sitting in a saturated environment. I can’t emphasise enough how dangerous a state this is, particularly for Poa annua, with its shallow rooting and sensitivity to lower oxygen levels. In this state I’d suggest keeping wear off the greens and not putting the plant under any stress, that is don’t apply fungicides unless absolutely necessary, irons, tonics, dew controls as well, until the rootzone has thawed out and the grass plant can breathe again. Putting golfers on temporary greens is a must for the sake of a few days, failure to do so may set back the main greens for a lot longer than this.  Again I expect pecking by Crows and Magpies will be an issue as the search for food.

For the snow-covered courses, there’s not much to say other than the ground was frozen hard before the snow and although there may be a slight thaw, I expect it to re-freeze again from Tuesday onwards. Again this may cause hypoxic conditions to develop under the snow if the rootzone surface thaws and becomes waterlogged over a frozen rootzone. I don’t expect this to occur for long though because as the cold air comes in, the rootzone will re-freeze through all of its profile. As discussed above, it’s a real kids glove job when the greens do eventually come out of snow cover, but this may not be until next week for the guys in the east / south-east of the U.K, I’m afraid, sorry.

I’ll do another mini-update at the end of the week to let you know how things look then for next week and the thaw / no thaw scenario.

All the best….

Mark Hunt