Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

January 20th – Mini Blog

Hi All,

Just a quickie blog today as I have to get my backside up to Harrogate earlier than usual this year for BTME 2020. If you feel your ears popping a bit more than usual in the early part of this week it is because we have very high pressure at the earth’s surface.

It may also affect T.V and Radio signals as well. When I say very high pressure, my Netatmo is currently showing 1052.4 mb, which is the highest I’ve ever seen it register. Apparently the early part of this week will record the highest pressure we have measured since 1902 (which was 1053 mb !). That’s a big meteorological wow !

Somewhat hilariously The Daily Mail were warning that there may be a T.V blackout during ‘Dancing on Ice’, now wouldn’t that have been a god send 🙂 !!

Isn’t it nice to finally have a bit of proper winter weather ?

I was out at Pitsford reservoir, Northants before the sun came up on Saturday morning waiting for the Trout to wake up. Simply beautiful, very parky yes, nose tingling, affirmative, but utterly gorgeous, yes sir indeedy ! Did I catch ? Yep I certainly did 🙂

This weekend areas in the shade stayed frozen all day, there was ice on the puddles and we had two penetrating frosts on the bounce getting down to -4°C.  Nice to see a bit of winter finally, but will it last ?

General Weather Summary for w/c 20/01/20

Well this week will see high pressure stay in charge pretty much for the whole week but again as correctly predicted last week (I know I bang my own drum but somebody has to :)) we will see that high pressure push away in time for the weekend I am afraid. So the first part of the week looks dry, cold with some night frost and early morning fog. Day temperatures up to 6-10°C and night temperatures dipping down to close to freezing dependent on cloud cover in your location. The change comes about during Thursday when we will begin to see more in the way of cloud cover pushing down from the north together with the arrival of rain to the north-west of Scotland. This front of rain and wintry showers will mainly stay confined to that area making little progress south into Friday. On Friday morning we will see the wind direction change from southerly / south-easterly round to south westerly.  Dry through Friday for most areas though just duller and cloudier with no night frost. During the day we will see rain fronts amass over north-west Ireland pushing rain into Connacht, Northern Ireland and The Western Isles. Dry, cool with some sunshine and clouds on Friday for the most part. Through the course of Saturday we see more rain for the north-west of Ireland / west of Ireland and some of this will push inland on Saturday. That high pressure stubbornly refuses to relinquish its grip so away from the north-west of Ireland, Scotland and England, we look to stay dry, but noticeably milder and windier on Saturday. Sunday will see more rain across Ireland, Scotland and West Wales pushing into South Wales later in the day. Some of those showers may push inland later in the day.

Weather Outlook

So this time next week expect us to be back in a westerly air flow with strong to gale force winds and blustery showers.  Those showers are set to turn increasingly wintry across Scotland with blizzard conditions likely over higher ground. At this stage that cold air looks to extend down to The Pennines and no further south but we will see. Windy, dull and milder in the south with rain pushing through on Monday on a strong wind. Showers continuing through Tuesday into Wednesday before heavier rain arrives across Ireland and The South West through Thursday into Friday. It then looks like we have a transitory high pressure so that’ll dry things up a bit and push the rain further north before settling back into the same very wind, wet and mild (ish) weather pattern going into early February.

Agronomic Notes

Microdochium nivale disease pressure

The transition from high pressure to low pressure later in the week may bring with it some unwelcome Microdochium disease pressure across Ireland and the west of the U.K initially as that milder air pushes in and later into central and eastern areas. So before we see the wind ramp up and change direction at the end of the week we may see a peak of activity. At this stage I guess you may see activity around existing scars rather than new infection sites.

Leaf Dry Down

This winter one of the stand outs learns in my view has been the lower Microdochium nivale disease pressure during periods of low pressure i.e unsettled, wet, mild and windy vs. high pressure patterns characterised by low winds, mild night temperatures (sometimes) and heavy dews.

Now there are any number of reasons why this could be the case, but for sure one of the issues facing Microdochium nivale from a fungal development perspective is the rapidly alternating wet and dry conditions on the leaf surface.

Last week we had some wet and windy weather so I’ve downloaded the leaf moisture data and charted it against rainfall for the week. The results are below ;

The orange trace is the leaf moisture level as measured by a sensor vs. the blue columns which are rainfall. What you can see is that even during periods of rainfall, the leaf dried very quickly from its maximum leaf wetness level of 15 down to zero. 

In some cases it took less than an hour for the leaf to go from 100% maximum moisture level during a rain event to 25% moisture level because of the high wind speed associated with last week’s low pressure system.

Disease Triangle

Now imagine you are a fungus trying to develop across a leaf blade. You want stable conditions, in particular plant leaf moisture. In the above scenario we have wet, mild and windy conditions but what we don’t have is a consistently wetted up plant leaf.

Looking at the disease triangle above we can see that the one factor that doesn’t seem to be present during wet, mild and windy weather is a favourable environment for fungal mycelium development. We have moisture, we have temperature but it isn’t present in a consistent fashion.

Key to all of this is the strength of the wind because if it drops we will see dew development on the plant leaf at night and then Microdochium nivale can develop. So one of the most dangerous periods for us weather-wise is when we have low pressure system passing through and high pressure taking over or vice-versa. It also means sheltered areas with poor air flow are most at risk because they have lower wind levels, less leaf dry-down and heavier dew events.

That’s why taking scrub and volunteer trees out near greens to maximise light and air flow is a very necessary operation in this day and age, much as it irritates Joe Public and enviromentalists alike. So the option is leave them there and spray more pesticides to control disease…is that best practice I wonder ?

OK, time to pack my bags and ship out, looks like a very nice week for it, the Weathercheck link is available here

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weatherblog Test Post 03

Since 2007, I have emailed my weekly interpretation on weather patterns and their likely effect on turf in terms of nutrition, disease patterns and general maintenance to Greenkeepers, Course Managers,  Superintendents and Groundsmen.  As a committed weather observer I’d subscribe whole-heartedly to the phrase “the more I learn, the less I understand” when it comes to this complicated subject. That said, using some very accurate and freely-available weather data, I believe it’s possible for the man (or woman) in the street to interpret this into a forecast, and that’s what I do.

Weatherblog Test Post 02

Since 2007, I have emailed my weekly interpretation on weather patterns and their likely effect on turf in terms of nutrition, disease patterns and general maintenance to Greenkeepers, Course Managers,  Superintendents and Groundsmen.  As a committed weather observer I’d subscribe whole-heartedly to the phrase “the more I learn, the less I understand” when it comes to this complicated subject. That said, using some very accurate and freely-available weather data, I believe it’s possible for the man (or woman) in the street to interpret this into a forecast, and that’s what I do.

Weatherblog Test Post 01

Since 2007, I have emailed my weekly interpretation on weather patterns and their likely effect on turf in terms of nutrition, disease patterns and general maintenance to Greenkeepers, Course Managers, Superintendents and Groundsmen. As a committed weather observer I’d subscribe whole-heartedly to the phrase “the more I learn, the less I understand” when it comes to this complicated subject. That said, using some very accurate and freely-available weather data, I believe it’s possible for the man (or woman) in the street to interpret this into a forecast, and that’s what I do.

January 13th

Hi All,

Well here we are nearly at the middle of January already, Tempus fugit indeed !

Over the course of last week we saw yet another southerly-orientated low pressure pull in some pretty hefty rainfall totals over Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland topping up an already high water table and saturated soils. Walking yesterday it was evident that any dry-down at the start of January had been negated by the heavy rain at the back end of last week. To me this seems the wettest winter we have endured and indeed it has been quite different from other wet autumn / winter in terms of the pattern of weather. Firstly, it started very early (third week of September), secondly there have been very few dry-down days since then and lastly, the low pressure systems have been southerly-orientated and slow-moving, leading to heavy daily rainfall totals. You will I think be pleased to hear that the high pressure signal mentioned last week for the end of this week is still looking odds on, so a dry respite is on the way. How long it ends up lasting is anyone’s guess 🙂

Some form of colder weather must be on its way though because all of my late-brood Hedgehogs have simultaneously hibernated (the parents did so back in the third week of November). This wasn’t before I managed to get one visitor to my garden (Parky) to the local wildlife hospital because at 235 gms he wouldn’t have been able to survive till spring. Stella is in there as well as she needs treatment for lungworm and a damaged leg. Hopefully both will survive and will be fit & healthy come March for me to re-house in my garden. Chatting to the staff there I learnt a lot more about Hedgehogs including how to get them to uncurl 🙂

So let’s see if this week’s forecast turns up some nicer weather for us all and if the Hedgepiglets were right ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off as predicted last week with very strong winds and rain, some of it heavy. In the image above you can see the low pressure off the west coast of Ireland and the tightly-packed isobars that will bring us an unsettled start to the week. So from early doors on Monday we see rain, some of it heavy pushing into Ireland and also some scattered showers moving across England and Wales from The South West. Through the course of the day that rain will cross Ireland and make landfall across the west by lunchtime. It will then take most of the afternoon to reach central parts and overnight will cross all of the U.K. The accompanying winds will be very strong with gale force gusts likely. With a south west wind it will also be very mild across the south with temperatures expected to hit double figures. So wet and windy for the west, dull, drier and quieter for central regions till the wind and rain arrive. 

Tuesday sees that rain clearing away into The North Sea and a dry start for all areas, but not for long. Some showers will kick off from dawn for westerly coasts but during the late morning, a new southerly-orientated low pressure system will push into the south west of Ireland and England bringing further rain from lunchtime as it tracks north easterly. Ireland will also see that rain across the south and west move north eastwards through the morning and not to be outdone, Scotland will pick up rain across the north west. Some of that northern moisture will fall as wintry showers across elevation. That rain for Wales, England and central / western Scotland is in for the day but Ireland should see it clear away as dusk approaches. A real north-south divide temperature-wise with Scotland in the mid-single figures whereas down south we look to push well into the low teens. Very windy again from the south west.

Wednesday sees that rain still placed in a band across East Anglia and The South East, otherwise you’ll start dry save for some showers along the western-facing coasts of Ireland and the north west of Scotland. Through the morning that rain across the south east will depart but we will still see some showers for The South West, Wales, The North West and north-west Scotland where again they’ll be wintry. Through the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow across Scotland will push eastwards into central areas. Windy still from the west / south-west and cooler as well with more in the way of sunshine away from western coasts on Wednesday limiting temperatures to high single figures. A good drying day though for most areas.

Thursday sees yet another southerly-based low push into the south and west of Ireland from the off. Now with tightly-packed southerly isobars this low will track more north than north east so during Thursday morning it’ll cover Ireland and push into the west of Scotland. Some of the rain associated with it will be heavy across Ireland. England and Wales will start off dry, particularly across the east and central areas. Around lunchtime that rain will push into The South West and South Wales and through the course of the afternoon, push eastwards into central areas clearing Ireland as it does so. So where you start dry, you’ll end up wet and vice-versa for Thursday. Again very windy from the south / south west with the strongest winds across Ireland and the west of the U.K. Temperatures will range from 8-10°C.

Finishing off what has been an unsettled week, Friday sees a day of sunshine and showers with most of the showers early doors across the west and north of England and the west coast of Ireland, Wales and England. As we move through the day those showers become less widespread and the wind drops down announcing the arrival of high pressure from the south west. So a drier 2nd half of the day for many, still with some showers across central areas and western coasts with some of them wintry across north-west Scotland. Cooler for Friday despite a westerly wind with temperatures down to 6-8°C.

So how do we look for the weekend ?

Well with high pressure pushing in we should see a dry weekend for everyone, colder as well with the risk of night frosts, just what we need to break up the soil and dry areas down. Winds will be light and from the north west reflecting the colder feel to the weather.

Weather Outlook

Above is the GFS projection for next Monday, 20th of January and as you can see we have high pressure in situ. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that in this blog but it is good news. How long will it last ? Well maybe a week, maybe a tad longer for the south but through next week we look to have a cold, settled and dry spell with night frosts.  This will gradually break down from the north towards the end of next week with some windier and more unsettled weather for Scotland towards the end of next week.

Want to know when it is going to get colder ?

Simple, Ask a Hedgepiglet…..

Agronomic Notes

OK, we will start off this week’s notes with a look back at December 2019 and also 2019 as a year….

GDD – UK Location – Thame, Oxfordshire

So December 2019 went out as a pretty cool one with a total GDD of 31, ranking it very similar to 2018 and previous years. As confidently predicted , 2019 wasn’t going to set the GDD world alight from a yearly total perspective, coming in below 2000 total GDD for the year and a good way off the peak years of 2017 and 2018.

As I’ve commented on before, I don’t believe the U.K & Ireland’s climate is following the climate trend we hear about so often on the news in terms of rising temperature year-on-year. This is because of our island location and the fact that the jet stream dictates our weather. Now of course there’s an argument to say the peak and trough patterns forming in the jet stream are the result of climate change with theories pointing towards less temperature differential between the equator and The North Pole. This means less energy driving the jet stream at certain points of the year and therefore more potential for the formation of Rossby Waves. (peak and trough patterns)

Certainly our weather nowadays seems to come in set ‘blocks’, the 10-week summer of 2018, when we had continuously high E.T, air temperature and no rain. The 12-week (and counting) block of autumn / winter 2019, with near continuous rain and very few drying days.

GDD & Rainfall – U.K Locations – December 2019

Looking across the GDD, my Netatmo data comes in lowest GDD for the month again, by virtue of my shaded back garden location I think rather than my unwillingness to put the central heating on 🙂 The biggest variability for December across the locations is not in growth but in rainfall with Fife coming in as one of driest and the warmest from a GDD perspective. This is because Scotland picked up some milder air at the end of the year and for many days was significantly warmer than down south. Wettest again was down in The South West with 219mm of rain falling in December, that is over 4 times the driest location and shows that the predominant rainfall patterns were south and west-orientated rather than the traditional north and west. You have my heartfelt sympathy lads and lasses down that neck of the woods….

GDD & Rainfall – Irish Locations – December 2019

Ireland follows a similar pattern but here there is much greater variability between locations Killiney coming in as the coolest location (16.1) by way of its higher elevation. Only a few miles up the coast as the Seagull flies and we have Donabate at 51.7. Just shows you can’t presume from a general location how your growth pattern has / will been / be. Valentia stands head and shoulders above the rest as the mildest and wettest, but you can also see the southerly and westerly orientation of the rainfall with Cork, Claremorris and Valentia, the wettest Irish locations.

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I thought it might be a good idea to look at the total rainfall for 2019 for the sites that submit their weather data to me (thanks as always one and all) and also look at how much of that rain fell from September to the end of December. The results are pretty interesting……

Total rainfall for 2019 and autumn contribution – U.K Locations (all readings in mm)

It’s amazing to see the consistency in terms of the % of the yearly total rainfall that fell in effectively a 13-week period from the 3rd week of September to year end. For the U.K locations that we monitored, between 47 – 58% of the total rainfall of 2019 fell in effectively the last 25% of the year. So you want to know why everywhere is so wet ? well there’s your reason…. You can download the above graph here

Total rainfall for 2019 and autumn contribution – Irish Locations (all readings in mm)

For the Irish locations, the % of yearly total is lower on the whole varying from 35 – 53%, with the average down in the low 40’s. Nevertheless it is still reflective of a wetter-than-usual autumn / winter period….. You can download the above graph here

Another significant feature of autumn / winter 2019 was / is the lack of dry-down days that gave the soil a chance to return to some form of healthy oxygen status rather than the low oxygen / saturated soil status it has been for weeks now. I’ll do some digging into this particular feature later this month but time is marching on…

Microdochium nivale activity update

Last week I mentioned the activity peak between Christmas and New Year and this was repeated again last week as we picked up some very mild, southerly air and high humidity.

On most sites it seems to have shown as new activity around the edge of an existing fungal patch rather than new activity across the sward from a greens perspective. The type of activity shown below would be typical on a Poa annua-dominated green. Thanks……ah ah 

Speaking of our old friend Poa annua, it has been a pretty good autumn / winter for this grass plant species although it hasn’t had the temperature to grow as much as we would normally see in a wet winter because as my GDD stats show we have been wet but not mild. With low light and high rainfall I would also expect to see moss species on the up as well with the balance tipping towards them and away from grass.

Let us hope that as last year we transition into spring quickly and growth picks up well allowing the balance to swing back in favour of grass growth.

Rarely does a Meteoturf module tell a better story of this week with mild day and night temperatures accompanied by rainfall through the week resulting in a nice bit of growth and then a sharp drop-off in both as colder high pressure arrives. This one is for the Bracknell area of the U.K. As we progress through this week I expect low Microdochium nivale activity because of the strong wind and rain and for this trend to continue through next week as the colder air arrives.

BTME 2020

I hope to catch up with many of you at Harrogate next week but at the same time try to avoid my half-marathon training regime going down the pan at too fast a rate 🙂

A delicate balance if ever there was one 🙂

You can find the Headland Weathercheck link for Harrogate here…I reckon it’ll be fine, dry and cold.

OK, that’s me for another week…

All the best.

Mark Hunt