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Hi All,

So we’re rapidly closing in on the Winter Solstice on the 21st December, a time when the sun appears at its lowest point on the horizon, thereafter it begins its climb back towards the summer.  These days we all know ‘winter’ itself doesn’t really start until January, this year it may just be a few days early.  Difficult to believe though, as I sit here, the weather station has been reading over 13°C for 18 hours and the soil temperature is at 10.2°C, unheard of really for mid-December. Cast your mind back to all those autumn headlines ‘predicting’ our coldest Christmas ever and make a mental note the next time you read one, consign it to the rubbish bin shortly after 🙂

My postie has just walked by the house with shorts on for Christ’s Sake !

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Projected Weather Pattern Outlook for Christmas Day

And cue Winter….

As you can see from the graphic above, Winter is on its way though, so we will start to see a gradual drop in temperatures this week, as the high pressure that’s been protecting us slips south and allows colder and extremely windy air to follow it. The main drop won’t happen until after next weekend, but particularly for Scotland, the north of Ireland and Northern Ireland, I think Christmas day may see some really wild weather, with storm force winds and they’ll be chilly ones as well.  Further south, a cold Christmas is on the cards and we may well pick up some snow between Christmas and the New Year, too late for the bulk of my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas I fear, though I may just come out evens as I had 3/1 on Glasgow 🙂

General Weather Situation

So this week starts as it means to go on with unsettled conditions, rain and wind the order of the day. Currently we have a band of rain moving across Scotland and the North of England (\) and heading south, so rain for most of us, though Ireland should be drier after a wet start to the week. That rain might take till late morning to reach The Midlands and to the evening rush hour to get south / south-east, but it’ll remain here mild today, 13 – 14°C during the day. Winds will be strong / moderate and from the south-west. Scotland will be a little cooler, maybe high single figures only.

Tuesday, sees that band of rain clearing the south-east of England by dawn and for the U.K and Ireland, the driest day of the week for sure, so this one is the spray opportunity because we’ll have lighter winds as well. For Scotland, those winds won’t drop though as you’re closest to the low pressure that’s pushing them in, so another windy day here is on the cards. it’ll feel cooler as well, a taste of things to come.

Wednesday, looks like being an extremely wet day, but not during daylight hours, with some very heavy rain on the cards for Wednesday evening / night. It starts off with rain affecting the west coast of the U.K and in time for the morning rush hour, a new band of rain pushes into West Munster / Connacht. By and large the south and east of the U.K will stay dry during daylight, but at dusk, a very heavy band of rain pushes into western Ireland and quickly moves to cover all of the U.K and Ireland into the night. Difficult to say at present, but maybe 10-12mm is possible 🙁 That rain will be pushed along by gale force winds as well and although they’re from the south / south-west, the source is from ‘up north’, so it’ll feel cool as well, high single figures maybe.

That rain should clear Ireland and most parts of the U.K overnight into Thursday, but for north-west Scotland, there’s a chance it’ll linger and give possible flooding, with snow at higher altitudes. Through the day, they’ll be showers across Ireland and the west of the U.K, pushed along by brisk, cool, south-west winds, but further east and south, it may be a bright day, with periods of sunshine.  By close of play Thursday, those showers will be confined to the north-west of Scotland and may be wintry in nature.

Friday, looks to start off dry for most of us and cool with it, but out west it’ll be milder and that’s because another rain front is pushing in off the Atlantic into West Munster / Connacht / Donegal by the morning and at the same time affecting the north-west of England and Scotland. This rain will be potentially heavy in nature over Ireland and Scotland initially before affecting Wales and the south-west of England into late afternoon / early evening. Overnight into Saturday that rain moves east, to affect all parts during the night and again it’ll be potentially heavy for the south coast coming into Saturday.

I know I said this last week and was wrong, (for you guys in that frost / fog pocket in Surrey and Kent particularly) but I can’t see any likelihood of frost this week till maybe the end of the week and then only for Friday morning potentially as temperatures are due to pick up later on Friday.

At this stage the weekend looks very unsettled with blustery showers / heavier spells of rain for the U.K and Ireland on Saturday, pushed along by that south-west wind. Sunday looks potentially brighter, but cooler in the south of England, with rain never far away, particularly at the back end of the day.

Weather Outlook

The all important Christmas week beckons, so how does it look like shaping up ?

Next week looks like starting off cold and dry in Scotland, but further south it’ll be windier, mildish and with the ever-present threat of rain for Ireland and the south of the U.K. As we wind into Christmas Eve, things will start getting interesting as an intense, cold low pressure system begins to dominate the weather and that means packed isobars, very windy and I think for Scotland, the north of Ireland and Northern Ireland, there’s a strong risk of snow, particularly over higher ground initially, but as we move into Christmas Day, this extends to lower altitudes. Further south, it’ll be very windy and potentially pretty wet as well for Ireland and the U.K, with those showers falling as snow, sleet, rain depending on altitude. As we go to Boxing Day, we’ll still have those strong westerly winds, but because they originate from the Arctic, it’ll feel cool and again there’s a risk of wintry showers, possibly at lower altitudes. As we close out Christmas week, we may get a brief lull before another round of high winds and wintry showers pushes in.

All the above depends on the influence of the low pressure system coming south, however as we’ve all seen, that can easily change and get bumped up and off, so let’s see in a week’s time.

Agronomic Notes

Last weekend and today’s balmy (barmy as well!) weather is all courtesy of a warm peak pushing up from The Azores and when you see from my weather station, that we’re sitting at 13°C plus, it’s unheard of for December. Not just the air temperature, but the soil temperature being right up over 11°C approaching the Winter Solstice. I’ve looked back at my records and the highest I’ve previously seen it was 7°C, back in 2005, amazing….

I’m interested to see if this has resulted in growth as my GDD model predicted, let me please if you get a mo’ ?

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So we can expect plenty of disease activity out there due to this combination of moisture and temperature, but hopefully you guys are all protected and safe and sound. If you’re not and you need to spray, then Tuesday for many may be the only day this week, though for Scotland and Ireland, it’ll be trickier because of the wind strength / threat of rain.

Dew Control

I know many of you would normally apply a Dew control this week on the run up to Christmas, but personally I’d skip it because I can’t see any threat of dew during Christmas week and I don’t like applying when there’s very heavy rain on the horizon, particularly to thatchy, poor-draining turf. Keep your powder dry till dew control is an issue.

Hypoxia

It’s likely that we will see some hypoxic stress on turf this week / next week because of the weather patterns. Hypoxia means lack of oxygen and characterstically you’ll see it as a yellowing on thatchy turf, poor-draining areas, often those which are out of play and so don’t get the foot traffic. When we have very heavy, localised rainfall that can saturate rootzones very quickly, hypoxia can be an issue, particularly if those areas haven’t been aerated and / or are low in topdressing amounts through the year. The best way to avoid this is inputting oxygen by vertidraining / solid tining / slitting and making a note if you see yellowing of turf, where it’s ocurring, so you can concentrate on those areas in the future, aeration-wise. Talking plant species, hypoxia tends to affect Perennial Poa the worst because of its high shoot density (and so potential to produce thatch, even in a localised area)

Nutrition

Obviously with the combination of wind and rain this week, it’s tricky to get a spray day, but if you are looking to apply a granular fertiliser to areas, then this week is ideal, particularly high-iron products to tees, approaches, etc, where the moss will be nicely wetted prior to application.

Ok that’s it for this week, short and sweet on the agronomic front, but I will do a mini-update in a week’s time, despite the fact that we’re supposed to be off for Christmas 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt